Day in and day out she sat in the room with very little changing in her world. Rise and shine, up and at-um. Bathing and dressing and being placed in her chair to be rolled off to meals and then returned, back again to her room. Long was gone the spark in her eyes. It had faded slowly, not like the blowing out of a match but more of a candle being enveloped by a mysterious and evil fog. Some days you could see the flicker as if a quiet breeze would part the mist, but those days had become fewer and more far between. As the spark faded so had the recognition, the laughter and the memories. Was she even there? Buried deep inside, was she just lost without anyone to help her find the way out? The television only flickered with background images and the many portraits hanging on the wall had lost their ability to jog any memories, good or bad.
She sat in the chair holding the photograph. I had placed it in her hands and she had grasped it, almost hungrily. Having a new one, unfamiliar yet familiar, would that create a spark? I waited. She must be waiting too I thought. Blank eyes only focused periodically and she took her time to look down at the picture. I had selected one of her with her younger sister, Elinore. Nothing recent since the recent was definitely gone, but instead a photograph of the distant past. A black and white with tints of grays, where their youth and vibrancy could bring the colors to your imagination. Young girls, sisters excited to be down by the ocean. The pleasure of summer and swimming and just being together shown on their faces. They had the whole world ahead of them and while maybe not a pearl was awaiting in a found oyster, their excitement and enjoyment of the moment out shown any imaginable or discoverable treasures.
She stared and I waited. How powerful can a picture be? Can images dredge deep enough to stir a too long dormant soul? What would it take to pull out some joy, some hope , some semblance of meaning? The hum of the heater and the background noise of the nurses station droned on around us. We waited together. She and I. Compassion had long lost the ability to revive her, did a photograph have enough power?
Then it began. Slowly at first. A glint of light in her blue eyes? Was it my imagination? Could there be a parting of that mist in her mind? Then there it was. The smile. She saw it. The love and the memories for a brief moment flooded back, as a wave of awareness caressed her soul. It wasn’t but a flash, but she was there. The color on her cheeks and the tear in her eye said it all. Blood is thicker than water and images of the past can sometimes impart wonders. Wonders for her and relief for myself. She is not gone..Not yet…her time with the sister that she loves, while perhaps locked in the photograph, is still hers to remember.