You bring all you know about a person. Their life, their desires, their dreams, their likes, their dislikes, their duties and their practice.Yet it is the photos that haunt.
I remember entering the retirement home on a January evening. The body lay resting on the bed. She rested a lot these days. The mind - well who knows what is in the mind. Not wanting to startle but hoping she would wake, washed the few glasses accumulated from the daily pill taking each morning and night, collected the invoices and flyers sorting then dispatching most to the trash, checked the telephone messages, turned on the television to Law and Order, though not too loud, and waited.
Waited what seemed a long time. Only half an hour it turned out to be.
I felt she was ok. Still sometimes sleep looks so close to death. Couldn't really hear any sound. She was almost ninety.
- Mom. Mom. I whispered.
She didn't stir. I reached down and brushed her shoulder.
- What? Oh, hi. My stomach's feeling much better now.
- You had an upset stomach?
- Yes. Right after supper. I'm quite tired.
- Ok. I'll come back tomorrow.
- Sorry you had to come over.
- No, don't be sorry. I wanted to come. Just rest. Get a good sleep and I'll look in on you tomorrow.
- How are you?
- Everything is fine Mom. Just sleep.
Reached for her hand and looked into her half shut eyes. She lay back and seemed to return immediately to sleep.
Quietly left the room, kept the hallway and bathroom lights on just as she liked. Put on my coat and slipped out of the apartment to the elevator. Outside in the cold night with the sound of cracking ice underfoot I wondered if slipping into death was as easy as slipping into sleep or slipping out of a room.
At that moment I slipped on the black ice next to the car. Steadied myself and muttered - you can't even see it.
Writing this now I know one time and we can never really see it there will be no tomorrow and ...