I took care of Louise. We spent many slow hours together. She often said she wished we had known each other before, when she wasn’t stuck in a chair or in a bed. We would’ve had so much fun, she said.
Louise liked food. She liked her hummus and her hubbis and her tabouli. Every holiday she’d ask about the price of lamb.
She liked her morning oatmeal with raisins and bananas, topped with milk to the lip of the bowl.
She liked her Folger’s weak with a dash of cream. She liked me to have a cup, too. We’d have a cheer, clink together our coffee mugs, a “tooka” she called it.
And we’d play Cribbage, slowly like a couple of old women. Once she said, “Either I’m a very good player or…” She beat me all the time, even when she was under the puffy gray cloud of painkillers and I had to tap her hand to remind her it was her play. The last two games we played I won.
Yesterday, I went in to do the gentle cares for her dying body, washing her face, her eyes, rubbing lotion on her right hand, the only other part of her body that didn’t hurt to be touched. And I said, “Well Louise, are you up for a game of Cribbage?” Gallows humor, I know, but she appreciated it and tried to smile. That was the thing, it was so easy to make her laugh. I’ll miss that.
I’m not broken up about this. I’m quiet. But there’s been a shift in the world. I feel the rumbling.