Prayers can be answered in disconcerting ways. Progress can be more harrowing than stasis. Our Advent hope was for my mother to wake from her coma. And, one day, she opened an eye. But the eye fixed on us unseeingly and unnerved us so thoroughly that the 9-year-old now needs a nightlight to guard him from the ghost of Grandma.
We longed for words. And one day they came. But the words are frightening. My mother thought the 11-year-old was Boudicca. She reckons fellow patients are Russian spies and the nurses Machiavellian conspirators. The woman who was planning the redecoration of her kitchen that night she walked home from work now clings to my neck and implores me to release her from a prison cell.
I sometimes wish again for the coma for, in that peaceful figure, I could imagine my familiar mother waking. I try to comprehend how a vivacious career woman can, through the inattention of a stranger, be transformed in a second into this. And yet I know that we are lucky. It is the harsh lessons that best teach us our blessings. And the car that felled my mother on that November night has, most harrowingly, reminded us how much we are blessed - in the casual acquaintance who turned up with a roast chicken one suppertime; in the school mothers who bought me 'magic' pyjamas to restore sleep and lipstick to gladden my mother's critical eye when it sees again; in the friend who filled my children's stockings when I couldn't face the shops.
We are blessed in the tweets from people I've never met offering their prayers; in my mother's colleague who arrived after work to cook for my father and in the stranger who offered her free physiotherapy if she leaves hospital.
We are blessed by the miracle that she is alive and talking when her heart stopped on the roadside. Above all, we are blessed in my mother. We may not get her back as she was; we may not get her back at all. But her absence has made us realise what we once took for granted: that her love and her strength and her generosity have infused every aspect of our lives. And for that we are so very lucky.