The Visit

Before I reached down to touch her, I said her name, so that she wouldn’t be frightened. As soon as she heard the first sounds of my voice, she looked toward me with eyes that could not see me and pulled me into her. Tears flowed as I held her. Sorrow over all that has gone wrong, the joy, and the deep, buried sadness that all the memories we have built together over these years are surely coming to an end. Sorrow, tempered with the joy that we are right now graced with this moment; a free pass for today.

Stripped of so much, she has no barriers left, so that when you hold her, she can receive all the love you give. Like the string you pull on a child’s toy to make it come alive, peace flows back in as the string effortlessly retracts back into place. The pulling and retracting cycle repeats as the breath moves in and out. This is such a contrast from that “push” I get from the teenagers when I pull them in for a hug. “Awe, mom,” they say.

I can remember a time when I ached for just one more chance to hold her hand, to hold her and talk to her. And I never got it. That unfulfilled longing makes this time all the more sweeter.

I told her we had to stop crying now, as the only reason I came here today was for her to make me laugh. Soon, we were laughing so hard we cried. For the two hours I sat there, she never once let go of my hand.

She could hear the little girl’s cough down the hall, but I could not hear it as a pressing need the way she could. That’s what happens when you lose your sight; your hearing becomes more refined.

She might have a little bit of dementia… she cannot remember all of what is happening right now, and she’s a bit out of sequence with her daily events. But if you ask her anything about the past, she knows all of it, precisely. She said this of Grandma, “No one loved us as she did. And she never had to say it. You could be within five feet of her, and you knew how much she loved you.”

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