What I am thinking about is encapsulated in that view before me.
We have made these connected rooms, the reading room and her now bedroom, by doing what we have been doing since before they moved here: shuffling things around to accommodate what's happened in the last two months...their move here, their settling in more comfortably, Aunt Vi's fall one week ago. This is a house (perhaps I've written this before, but it's becoming more and more so) that is willing to become whatever you ask of it. With only a few moves, exchanges, switches, this here, that there, what was once a perfectly comfortable set of rooms becomes, once again, a perfectly comfortable set of rooms.
Next to me, Aunt Vi is breathing more heavily now, more noisily and labored, stopping a second or two every now and then to rest from that, too. I've rubbed her back, arms, legs, during which she spoke once out of her continued slumber, "onh...time to get up?" No, I say, it's only 6:30.
It reminds me that she's still trying hard to get back into her old routine, when only the week before, she woke by eight ("don't let me sleep late!"), got herself to the bathroom, washed her face, and shuffled into the kitchen for juice first ("good morning", she and my uncle toast), milk in her cereal (not before her juice! she doesn't like it soggy), a few slices of banana ("just a few!"), and then toast (plenty of butter), coffee (a "spot" of milk) and finally her regimen of pills she slides one by one out of a small bowl, counting slowly, sips of water in between, like a syncopated composition. Shuffling off again to bathe, brush her teeth, and dress ("what can i wear?" a challenge for her blind vision), at last pulling her hose slowly over each foot and leg, and sliding, just as slowly, into each shoe. After which she would sit back in her chair, exhausted, but dressed neatly and elegantly, rings, watch, scarf or necklace in place.
Still she strives mentally toward that ordinary life; instead, there is this invalid (in both senses) condition she must succumb to. What I see across the room reminds me in the face of unwelcome change how nonetheless change brings its own balance to things. The symmetry of the small reading room beyond her hospital bed, delivered five days ago thanks to hospice, comes about only because of this new being she's fallen into. Yet look at the comfort of it, the inclusion, the completeness. The arrangement on the wall...quilt and two small framed icons that favor it...weren't together before, scattered instead here and there about the suite. Yet how intuitively they balance each other, as if they were a puzzle, in theme as well as vision, just waiting for the right day when someone would figure them out. This view (my aunt in the foreground though the photo doesn't show it, leaning toward me as she sleeps on) is the calming center of this moment.
And there is another wall, too, in this part of the room facing her, again brought together by her move and only now after the fall striking its significance: the wall of our family predecessors, loved ones so important to her, facing her squarely across from the bed though she can't see them, impressing on her (and me) the full import of these moments, too.
And a third wall, with her favorite painting on it, now arranged before it the necessities of her days (certainly the flowers, included), murmurs silently to her.
A bird outside the window behind her has begun his song; the sky opens; the light she cannot see bathes her anyway.
I am here, bathing in it as well, grateful, if not for her fall, at least for the chance to awaken to this small grace.