My friend Joe volunteers at a nursing home. He sees the patients that never leave their room. Some are sleeping nearly all day. But some are awake and non ambulatory. "These are the folks, according to Joe, "that really sadden me."
"They'll tell me the promises their friends and children make, particularly the ones about "I'll see you in a couple of days," "I'll give you a call," "Just let me know when you want to get together next." These statements of hope leave an emptiness, and these residents put no stock in these words anymore."
"One woman told me, "I'd rather be with them. They come, they go, and I'm here. I don't know why. I raised them all when they weren't able to care for themselves. I can dress myself, go to the bathroom by myself, but I don't always know the day, the name of this place, or old what's-her-name in the bed over there. But I know them. I want them around me. I want to be with them."
"And they say, "Soon."
She said, "I have never understood what that meant. That's not a day, it's not a time. All that means is that I have to wait. And, as you can see, I've gotten pretty good at that." And she shakes her head, puts it back on the pillow, closes her eyes and goes to sleep."
"Be good with your word to those who wait for you. Take "Soon" out of your vocabulary, and instead be specific. Their lives are within their heads, and their thoughts and feelings are missing you. It reminds me of a Louden Wainwright song,
"And her teeth falls out, so does her hair But in her dreams you're always there A jewel in her unconscious mind A miracle, a precious find But in the end she's all alone He wakes up and her jewel is gone There's a heaven and she knows it's true But she's back on earth just missing you And it's hell on earth Missing you Back where she started Missing you."
"Be there for those who loved you, and be there often, OK? Don't let this condition happen to them."
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