Besitos - Mutha Magazine


Published on November 1st, 2023 | by Lisa Lim



Am thinking of you mi Madre
I hope you’re dancing to Celia Cruz
Leaving behind the wheelchair you never learned to wheel
Because you relied on the kindness of strangers

I hope you’re no longer in pain
That twisted face of pain that always ached my heart
I hope you’re sleeping on a cloud bed made for a queen
And not the hospital air mattress
That left your body in wild contortions
Until Baba placed two pillows behind you to prop you up
And one pillow on each side to secure you

Can I ask you mi Madre?
Do you miss Baba’s overcooked salmon, boiled and unseasoned burdock
The many chia seeds overflowing in your morning porridge
Poor mi Madre
I tried to sneak you apple strudels from the Hungarian Bakery you loved
But Baba was trying desperately to keep you alive
So you ate sugar free apple sauce and pouted instead

Do you remember how Baba used to massage your legs every night to prevent blood coagulation
Kept vigil beside your bed at every emergency hospital visit
He drove the nurses crazy with his list of questions
And every time you pulled through
Just when we thought you were gone
I could almost hear you whispering to God, I’m ready!
Mi Madre, it was so hard to let you go

These days, I think of you often
Your crooked smile
Your cafe leche breath
The way you called me your Lisita
You used to say, everything will be okay Lisita
Your breath sweet and coffee dirty
Everything will be fine you promise
Do you promise? Yes, I promise
I promise you repeat with your dirty coffee tongue
I didn’t believe you, but I liked it when you lied

How I miss your Jolene bleached mustache
I nearly didn’t recognize you without your upper lip hair
The whiskers that used to tickle me like feathers when you gave me a besito
Shaven off by a meticulous mortician
Que bella, mi Madre

I kept looking at your beautiful face
The new upsweep of your hair
To match your vintage photo 60 years ago
The hot ironed curls and freshly rouged lips
As you lay in the casket with the jumbo rosary
I could almost hear you whispering prayers
To Saintitos crowding your flowered shrines

I love that you always prayed for me
No matter how mad you were
No matter how tired
How you prayed for your family
For the underdogs of the world
Even those who didn’t really believe in God
Dios mios, you would always say

I would bury my face in your soft worn pajamas
Inhaling the sweet floral scent of Florida Water Cologne
You generously doused on your body and hair
While you kissed my head and whisper prayed for me
We all knew you were gone when you stopped praying
Like a light had been turned off

Do you remember the stuffed animal kitten
Gato, named after you
I bought her at the NYU hospital gift shop
Placed her in your arms
You held Gato so tight
And asked me not to leave
Don’t go, don’t go
Please don’t go
You looked so scared of the world
It broke my heart in pieces
Gato sits on my bureau and reminds me of you, every day.

Time to go sleepy now, mi Madre
You must be so tired
Rest your eyes
And smell the sweet roses
The angels are ready for you
Besitos, besitos

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About the Author

Lisa Lim is a comic storyteller born and raised in Queens, New York. Her work has been featured in GuernicaPANKThe RumpusPEN America, and Mutha Magazine. Her short illustrated story, “The Hunger” was featured in an anthology edited by Joyce Carol Oates, Cutting Edge: New Stories of Mystery and Crime by Women Writers. Find more of her storytelling here.

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