She quietly sits observing life, as it passes by, from a wheelchair in her room, absently stroking the ears of a stuffed bear, a gift from her oldest granddaughter. It has become a constant companion.
The nurse bustles past the open doorway, squeezing past the custodian as he buffs the floor to a glossy sheen.
Memories of a life once lived float through her mind’s eye as if dandelion fluff on a breath of air – life before the waiting began. She closes her eyes and drifts away.
She is a small child again, sitting between Pop and Mom in a darkened theater watching the newsreels before the feature begins. Despite the graphic footage, she knows she is cherished and feels safe…
…..She is stretched out flat. The rough wooden floorboards of the wide porch can be felt through her t-shirt. Shoulder to shoulder with her cousin, they pour over the stack of comic books that she brought with her from Chicago. Behind them Granny George sits rocking in her chair, singing staple hymns as she snaps the ends off of pole beans and drops them into the bowl in her lap….
…She is a teenager, giggling with her girlfriends as they curl their hair, perfect their make-up and try to find just the right dress for the dance….
….She is an eager bride-to-be counting down the days until her sailor returns. She dreams of their wedding day and plans for the future….
….She is a working mother, divorced and trying to make ends meet for her three children – savoring the weekends when they all pile into her bed to watch B-grade horror movies on a small black and white television….
…She is holding the hand, once again, of her beloved. She smiles to herself as she remembers the sweet secret afternoon rendezvous with this dear husband. He had been an unexpected chance at happiness…
Days once so full that there never seemed to be enough hours in them are now spent idly waiting. Waiting for meds, waiting for meals, waiting to use the bathroom, waiting for family to visit……Waiting for God to call her home.
She releases an audible sigh, opens her eyes, kisses the bear on the top of the head, adjusts its dress, clutches it to her chest and resumes her wait.