Louie sat in a chair near the window in his pajamas and robe with the curtains slightly drawn to let in just a hint of sunlight. He stared blankly through the part in the curtains. How much time had passed since the aide sat him in the chair was lost to him in his almost trance-like state.
His eyes never blinked as a tear formed in the corner of his eye and spilled over onto his cheek. It ran down his face until it reached his lips. Louie didn’t make an attempt to wipe it away. The sun made a lightning bolt pattern on the left side of his face with the track of the single tear glistening in the light.
The door to his room opened, and Millie waltzed into the room carrying a tray of food and medicines. “Good morning, Louie! How is my favorite guy this morning?”
Louie did not respond. “I got your breakfast. It’s hot and good,” she chattered.
Her heart was breaking as she glanced his way. For the past three weeks, it was always the same. He never talked or reacted. His skeletal frame was becoming more prominent every day. Millie sprinkled a little sugar and poured some cream over his oatmeal and stirred it until it felt tepid on her lips.
“Louie, Honey, now you have to eat this oatmeal. You will dry up and blow away with the breeze if you keep starving yourself like this.” She pulled up a chair and sat across from him. “Louie, they will put a feeding tube in you if you don’t eat. Now, please, open up and take a bite.” Louie did not respond.
Millie put the bowl on the table next to Louie and stood up. “Let’s open these curtains.”
She pulled the curtains back, and the sunlight came flooding in. Except for a couple of slow blinks, Louie’s face remained expressionless. Millie sat down in front of him again and picked up the bowl.
Her face was solemn as compassion rose up in her. “What on earth could have made you give up like this?”
Inside Louie’s mind, a single sentence played over and over like a broken record, “Help me, please.”
Even though she had no way of knowing about his silent scream for help, she longed to reach him. Today, she would try something new.
“A penny for your thoughts, Louie,” she whispered as she looked directly into his eyes and gently caressed the fingers of his left hand; her dark skin was a stark contrast against his milky white skin. She had heard one of the other aides say that the real bad ones sometimes respond to touch. Not Louie.
She let her eyes follow his out of the window trying to see what he was seeing. As she watched a tree branch swaying gently with a breeze, she recalled overhearing the duty nurses talking about Louie’s three children. His wife had passed away at the age of 86, and his children took everything he had and put him in this home to wither away and die. She didn’t even know if they ever came to visit him.
She prayed silently for Louie’s children, “Lord, don’t hold this against them. I don’t know why they did this, but You do. And somehow, Lord, I know You’re going to make it all right for Louie and his children.”
She patted his hand, and said, “Sweetie, if you won’t eat this food here, then how about I feed you some spiritual food. I bet you would like that.”
She looked at the door to make sure it was completely closed, and she pulled out the small New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs from the pocket of her uniform. She opened the tiny book to the place she had marked earlier and once again took his lifeless hand in hers.
“Louie, you ever read the Psalms? Well, you are in for a treat today.” She started reading to him from Psalm 121, a personal favorite. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” Millie looked up quickly as she felt Louie’s frail fingers curl slightly around hers.
The corners of her lips turned slightly upward, “God’s Word doesn’t return void, does it?”
And she continued to read the words of hope she knew Louie needed to hear…maybe for the first time in is life.
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