Her steps alternate between a lost foot fall and a shuffle. We walked and talked and on occasion she would reach out and grab my arm for balance, even as she gripped the handrail on the other side. I was pleased that she ate a whole sandwich with relish. A show of appetite gives one hope.
She asked numerous times “Do you have time?” I cringed inwardly, thinking of the many times I dropped off groceries and medications, or scribbled out quick checks for her bills and dashed out the door onto the next task.
On her table, a little notepad is filled with times that she scrawled while on the phone with me. She asks me again what time I’m picking her up for her appointment and when is Halloween.
Time. All at once it is infinite and finite. She remembers moments as a girl in the small country school. She calls me someone else. Her mind is a slowly lapping wave, leaving a memory or a word or a moment along the shore, returning to the sea with less than what she brought. Moments threaded with anxious repetitive questions. Moments knotted, as she struggles to untangle thoughts and find words.
I get lost in sadness at times and then she comes back, joking and smiling and calling me by my name. I know to become present, because those moments matter. They won’t matter in a day or even moments from now. They won’t be remembered by her. But they matter here and now. She is happy, unafraid and at this very instant, in the company of someone who loves her – the kind of moments we often wish for and sometimes miss in a blink.