What took you so long?

Welcome. I've been waiting for you to show up.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Things Unsaid

"Hannah, honey, hand me my lap robe would you, and roll me out to the veranda?"
My name is not Hannah, and there is no veranda where Mrs. Jackson lives, now. But I oblige her with a bath towel across her knees and turn her wheelchair to face out her second story window. While her back is turned to the room, I make her bed, tidy her belongings and disinfect the surfaces she touched overnight after episodes of incontinence.
"The lilacs must be blooming, Hannah. I can smell them!" she exclaims. I do not tell her it's the floral-scented Lysol spray or that lilacs don't grow in the deep South.
"What shall we do this morning, Hannah?" she asks me brightly. I can see that her mind is wandering over myriad possibilities, over whole continents where she used to go, for real.
"Whatever you like, Mrs. Jackson," I say. "Would you like to visit the neighbors?"
"Yes, I would, and especially that nice Mr. Evellyn."
I do not say that there is no Mr. Evellyn -- which she pronounces EEv-Lin -- on her floor or anywhere else in this facility.
There is more I do not say, more everyday: that a son who never comes has died. That a friend who used to call has died, as well.
Finally all the many things I cannot say fill up my throat, and I feel I might choke on Mrs. Jackson's absent life.

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