Friday, March 09, 2018

Sweet Girl

I’m heading into the bathroom at LAX and I notice them standing on the side. His hair is white and he talks to her slowly, and calmly, pointing down the hall to the Ladies room.

“You just go down there. I’ll be right here.”

“Just go there,” she asks and she looks at him lost. Her hair is done up in the soft familiar curls that women from her generation seem to favor. She is dressed smartly, like Lucille Ball as a grandmother, standing with a man who is almost certainly her son.

“Just down the hall. I’ll be right here.”

“You’ll be okay?”

“Yes.”

“And I just got down there. Are you sure that’s it?”

“Yes, I’ll wait for you. It’s okay.”

“You’ll be here?”

“Yes, just down there.”

I know what is happening here. I queue for a stall when there are three standing open and I wait for her.

“This one is for you right here.”

“Oh, no, you go first.”

“It’s okay, there are lots of open one, you go ahead in here.”

“Okay, thank you.”

I rush into an open door and finish quickly, washing my hands. A line has started in truth.

A the end of the hall I find him standing there, waiting.

“Is she going to be okay on her own? Can she get back out?”

“I really hope so.” A small sentence. His voice barely breaks but I hear it there. Heartbreak, love, life, dedication, pain, so much pain...to watch and care after someone you love and watch them now, in their decline. Four words, an entire life in four words.

“Would you like me to go check on her?”

“Do you mind?” The relief washes off of him in waves. I can feel it. He doesn’t say anything else.

“What’s her name, so I don’t frighten her.”

“Pat. It’s Pat. Thank you.”

I smile and walk down the hall and find her washing her hands.

“There you are, Pat, are you ready to go back to that handsome gentleman?”

“Oh, you, you are so sweet. That’s so sweet of you. Do you know where he is?”

“Yes, he’s right there, he’s waiting.” I hold out my arm and she looks down at it. Up at me, into my eyes.

“It’s okay Pat. We can go together.”

“You are so sweet. Such a sweet girl.” Her hand on my arm, my hand on her frail hand, her thin skin under my fingers, the pulse palpable on the surface.

We walk arm-in-arm up the hall.

“Here you are.”

“She is just the sweetest thing.”

He whispers thank you, I can hear the shaking in his voice.

I smile and I walk away.

The hallway to the exit is long and a light shines at the end. I remember the grandmother I never got to morn, I remember so much and suddenly I am overwhelmed by everything I remember and everything I have loved and everything I have lost. There is a moment of realization.

I have no one in the world to even know me.

And what if I forget who I am?

What does it all mean if there is no way to remember it at all. Just the floating, tangents of the day that one tries to connect to make meaningful when meaning continues to flee.

I cried.

And then I collected my bag and exited the door into the uncomfortable warmth and late afternoon sun.

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