I began writing this post months ago, after visiting my Grandmother. It's been rattling around my brain ever since.
I see her walking down the hallway, her fingertips grazing the walls. A year before she moved to assisted living, I remember how she would walk between the wall and the couch, using pieces of furniture for balance.
She makes a turn and sees us. I wave a hand and she picks up her pace.
"Aren't you a surprise?" she says and hugs me.
We were just there a few days before but I do not say this. I smile and take her hand. She leads me into her room, moves a stack of magazines so we can sit and asks me what I have been doing.
It is like this every time I visit. She does not remember I have been there before or if she does it's faded and thin. Recent memories are gossamer.
And somehow it doesn't matter. I tell her about photographs I found of us. I show them to her and she says, "We look so young!"
"We do, don't we."
"Think about all the things we do not know," she says, and I wonder if she is talking about then or now.
I nod, considering the poignancy of the moment. And I look at the versions of ourselves who were just beginning a journey together, where we would learn from one another. I think about how often I wish I could go back and tell myself, "appreciate every moment of this time."
But I wouldn't have listened.
I was in a hurry, then, at 18 or 20, to grow up, to know all the things. But my grandmother understood, better than most, how quickly things change. And I am acutely aware of it, today as we sit knee to knee in her compact living space.
"I have everything I need" she repeatedly tells me. I squeeze her hand.
So do I, I think.