As a child, there was nothing more comforting to me than waking up to the smell of sulfur and cigarettes at 3 am. It meant I was safe and sound in my mother's bed. I can remember the scent pulling me out of whatever dream state I was in to reveal a cluttered room aglow from the green alarm clock. In the subtle light, I could make out the stacks of clothing, papers and books that had been there for years. The pile of "who knows what" that lay on the floor next to me that our jack Russell mix Mrs. Beasley had made a nest out of. Her dresser was filled with old jewelry, pictures, perfumes and lotions that were always way past the date of use, all of which my mother would save "just in case." As I lay with my back to her,I would watch the shadows of her body dance along the wall. She struck a match, inhaled deep and a bright glow would illuminate the room with each drag. I would never let her know I was awake; ever. It's not as if she would have been upset, or even minded; but there was something so beautiful in that moment, predictable, safe; that I could not allow my need to be heard overshadow the need to just be...well... Content. She would take a couple more pulls; each one filled the room with a bright orange glow if only for a moment and I watched as the smoke distorted the shadow puppets of her movement on the wall. I would hear the sizzle of the butt against the ashtray and the moment would be over. She would clear her throat, snuggle back into the covers and fall fast asleep. I would lay there for what seemed like an eternity wondering if this is how she thought it would be. Is this is at all who she saw herself as? These were the only times in my life when I can truly say that I loved her, understood her, and wished for her beyond anything else in my life... and the saddest part...is that she never even knew these moments existed for me. I guess that's the funny thing about ones reality.. it's all relative.