Joey held his mother’s hand, even though she didn’t move. She didn’t open her eyes, didn’t make a sound except for the hiss of the machine that helped her breathe. He knew his time with her was almost over for the night, because his daddy didn’t want him to be scared. He didn’t know that Joey was always scared when he came to the hospital to see his mother. He was scared of the machines that beeped and blinked, and he was scared of the mean looking nurses who tried to be friendly but never smiled. He was scared every time he walked into his mother’s room and saw her lying on the bed with a tube sticking out of her mouth and her eyes taped shut. He knew it was his mother, and he knew it was the person who used to read him stories before bedtime and push him on the swings and fix peanut butter and banana sandwiches for him. But sometimes it didn’t seem like her. The person on the bed just seemed like a stranger he’d never known before.