When I was little. I sometimes heard a “shushing” in my ears, just as I was falling asleep. I imagined that it was an angel whispering my name. It meant I was not alone, that something wondrous and beautiful watched over me in the dark.
I think of that from time to time and wish I could still hear those angel voices.
Lincoln can no longer speak. That has been our reality for a long, long time. Every once in a while, there is a word or phrase that is clear and meaningful but as the disease progresses, these have become fewer, the time in between, measured in weeks and months.
But in the last couple of days, while I have been coaxing him to open his mouth for soup or pudding or green-blob-this or white-blob-that he has merrily called out, Hello! or “Come In”.
Clear as a bell. In his old voice.
I am good at entering his world. Or, I am good at pretending to enter his world. I need to be. For all the love I bear, I cannot carry him into mine. So I acknowledge his greetings. He calls, Hello! and Hello! I say. Come in, he says. Thank you, I say, it’s lovely to see you. It is so easy at the time and it is only after, when I home, weary and alone that it breaks my heart that I cannot know who it is that he sees or hears, that it has been so very long since we inhabited the same world.
Dear friends visited us this week. As J leaned in to tell Lincoln stories of their shared adventures and misadventures, to gently tease him with memories of their misspent middle- age-to-greybeard-loon-age, Lincoln opened his eyes and leaned in to listen. His eyes focussed, his mouth found the rare and precious smile that undoes me every time I see it, and a connection was made, for long and extraordinary minutes, that was…is… undeniable its power and true-ness. And not just me, J’s wife bears witness, and the care-aides, too. We all needed the tissues from the box that was passed around. In his cottage, staff members who witnessed it are still telling their colleagues about it and weeping all over again.
This is grace, I think. This is grace.
Angels still whisper in my ear.