She has taken to wandering the corridors, continuously, - shuffling in her blue slippers and speaking in whispers, - a long journey that she seems compelled to make, around and around, her hand following the railing, her blue eyes bent to the floor.
Her caregiver urges me to find a place to sit and settle with her, and so we sit in a quiet corner, hand in hand, my arms around her shoulder, and I talk of the days of our long, long friendship. Her eyes brighten. She breathes a question that I strain to catch, and I tell her of our move, and of Charles, whose friendship with her husband was so close. She tells me in broken phrases how she longs to join him.... We talk a little of her family, - of the girls, who come to visit when they can, and of the son she leans upon, and waits for through the long hours of each day.
We sit for a while without talking, silently, but I am surrounded by the love that her friendship has brought me over the last sixty years. And it has come to this, for her.....
When it is time for me to leave we seek out the Caregiver and he walks a little with her while I punch the buttons that release me into the world she no longer inhabits. I am in tears as I drive home, and when I tell Charles of her distress his voice thickens and tears spring to his eyes as well, as he remembers his promise to her husband to watch out for her.
Who can protect from this most dreadful disease that steals, as you watch, the precious talents of living learned so eagerly in childhood.
I pray for her to soon realize her heart's desire, as my heart breaks.