I’ve been wondering, lately, what it’s like to be bedridden, with failing eyesight, sitting for more than a year in a small room, dependent on other people to do everything for you.
I’ve been wondering what it’s like to never know what your next meal will be, but being certain you won’t want to eat any of it. Except the ice cream.
What is it like to know you’ll never have a piece of fresh fruit, or your favorite holiday meal again. To spend your days waiting. For visitors, for your medications, for someone to change your sheets, bring you another blanket, a fresh pillow.
What’s it like to know the only escape from this room will be death?
She and I had a nice visit on Monday afternoon. She was in a good mood; the sun was shining and she let me open the blinds so she could see the light. She told stories from the old days, stories about her husband and her son, long gone before her, stories about growing up in northern Minnesota and the winters there.
She was surprised and a little proud of the fact that she was a hundred and two and a half years old. She never imagined she’d outlive so much of her family, so many friends.
Tuesday she was less jovial. Her clothes weren’t hung up correctly, the light hurt her eyes, lunch had been terrible, the staff wasn’t helpful.
Mostly she was lonely.
And that’s my one regret. That there wasn’t some way to keep her entertained, to get more people to visit, even for a few minutes, to convince her to get out of bed and into her wheelchair to explore the facility.
I wish I had taken her fresh grapes and half a banana last week. Or that personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut she talked about my last day with her. Oh I know I baked her favorite cookies on occasion, and I brought her flowers from our garden, and a pretty white tree with pink bows and birds on it that my sister made for her. I know most people would think I did enough.
But she was lonely.
And that’s why I’m not sad that she escaped her room Saturday morning. Today her eyes work just fine and she’s enjoying the company of her husband and her son and all her sisters and many of her brothers. Today she’s hugging her mom again, and spending time with her dad. Today she’s dancing again. And best of all, today she is no longer lonely.
A few months ago she and I talked about what might be waiting on the other side. She didn’t want to talk about that much, she insisted she didn’t want to leave us, that she’d miss us once she had to go. I asked her if she’d try, once she was there, to find a way to give me a sign that she was alright. She grinned and said she’d be sure to do that.
So today begins my wait. I’ll be waiting to see what she comes up with, how she’ll let me know she’s safe and warm and happy. I know in my heart that she is.
But for now I’m just a little lonely.