When the doctor delivered the news, we were abashed and afraid. How much time did we have?

When she started to walk haltingly, we were abashed and afraid. She'd never moved around slowly like that before in her life!

When the lab test came back, we were so relieved. It looked like she was going to make it! When she got some of her energy back, we were so happy!

When she started to sit down a lot, we were abashed and afraid.

When she stopped reading everything except the morning paper, we were abashed and afraid. She had always been such a big reader. When she stopped driving, we were abashed and afraid. She had always driven everywhere!

Now she sat in the passenger's seat.

When she stopped reading the morning paper and we'd read to her, we longed to see her with The New York Times, in hand.

It took her forever just to make herself breakfast.

When she started lying down right after breakfast, we got worried. We wished she would spend her mornings sitting up.

When she'd drop off to sleep while being read to, we wished she'd listen all the way through.

When she could no longer stand there to make breakfast, we were abashed and afraid. She was the one who always fed everybody! She had always made herself breakfast! We couldn't believe what was happening. We made her breakfast.

When she could only eat half, we longed to see her finishing everything on her plate, the way her father had taught her; all her life she'd obeyed him.

We longed to see her in the passenger's seat.

When she didn't have the energy to listen, we looked back wistfully at the way we used to read to her, and wished we had read to her more. We could have read her various things. Why hadn't we taken her places? Maybe she would have enjoyed the museum.

We longed to see her in her chair.

When she couldn't get out of bed, we thought: Just yesterday she got out of bed! It seemed so long ago. She'd walk across the living room to the kitchen.

When she couldn't feed herself anymore, we fed her, shyly.

When she could only finish about a third, we yearned for the time when she'd eat half.

When we realized she couldn't swallow, we thought to ourselves: Just yesterday she was able to eat.

When she stopped speaking, we looked back on our little conversations as if they were diamonds.

We sit and watch. She doesn't seem to be seeing us.

But she is breathing!

We rejoice. She is breathing!