One glance at the blue plastic pillbox reminded her what day it was. Only Wednesday? she thought, ruefully. How the days just bleed, one right into another, nothing to distinguish this one from the last.
Lilith shuffled over to the mirror hanging above her dresser. Isn't it strange, she thought, how our gait gives our age away even if our faces don't? As a girl, she had never been one to walk if she could skip and as a young mom she spent hours running after her own little girls. Now, like an old hound with no rabbit to chase, she ambled around her tiny room without pattern or reasoning. So she shuffled. Her back was stooped, her shoulders slumped. She was afraid her face, too, was now betraying her, new lines appearing almost daily before her eyes.
Her Howard had always stroked her cheek softly and called her his English Rose. She looked down at the gilded frame on the dresser, sitting atop a delicate pink doily. The oval frame held a fading photo of them on their anniversary trip to Hawaii. They had smiled and laughed, asking a young couple to take their photo at sunset. The last trip they had taken together. Many years ago now, but Lilith remembered it like yesterday.
That's what she had these days, her memories. Of course, Lilith had made a few friends at Whispering Pines. There were the ladies at the Tuesday Bible study. And the ones from her Friday knitting circle. But these were recent friends. Newcomers to her life. She wanted someone who already knew who she was. Not someone just to make small talk with about the weather—Gonna be a cold one out there today, don't you think?--or the state of the world—Kids these days don't even know the meaning of hard work. She wanted real conversation, something meaningful.
So she waited impatiently for Sundays. That was the afternoon set aside for her daughter and son-in-law to come see her. Or sometimes her granddaughter would stop by with those beautiful great-grands that hugged Lilith with their sticky fingers and stared at her with great wide eyes and fuzzy baby hair. She loved Sundays. Most times after her visitors left, she couldn't exactly remember what they'd talked about, but she was always overcome by a peacefulness. Yes, everything just as it should be. Lilith felt a part of life again, even for just an hour. Not someone on the outside, looking back at what she used to have, but a member of it, giving and receiving in the world once more.
* * * * * * * * *
“Looking great today, Mrs. Dunham.” The nurse on duty, Gloria, was one of Lilith's favorites. Always ready with a smile and a moment to talk. She asked, “Daughter coming today?”
“Yes. Grace should be here any minute.” Lilith was just stepping out of her room into the carpeted hallway. She had given her hair and face the once-over in the little mirror. After two tries she had settled on an outfit—her comfortable lavender pants and flowered blouse. And in a fit of whimsy, she added her favorite strand of pink beads, even though they didn't match what she was wearing. There's one perk of getting older, she thought, smiling.
Her room phone rang and she grabbed the doorpost to steady herself for a change in direction. As quickly as she could move, Lilith made her way to the phone and answered. Grace was on the other end.
“Mother, we're not going to make it this afternoon. Annie and the girls have been sick this week, and Trevor had two basket ball games this weekend. Ron just got back from his business trip, so we're running around like crazy and I really need time to relax before I go back to work tomorrow. Weekends are not long enough, are they? Are you well, Mother? I'll come by and see you next Sunday, okay? I promise.”
“That's fine, dear. I understand. You're busy.” Although, truly, it was not fine. She was disappointed. She was angry. And because she had no one with whom she could share the anger and disappointment, she was even more upset. Another week?
Lilith settled the handset back in its cradle and sat down in her rocking chair. She took a half-finished project from her knitting basket and the click-clack of the needles became the only sounds to break the deafening silence.
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