When we arrived late Friday afternoon, she was silent, eyes fiercely closed, her frail body sunk deeply in her bed. It had been a rough ten days---a fall in the night, injured wrist, hip, cheekbone. Bruises, pain, depression in the aftermath. And to think that just the night before the fall, she'd done a twirl or two, my brother as her dancing partner, before being tucked into bed.
Seeing her again Saturday morning lying in her bed, so small, so forlorn, so without hope, undid me. I, who thrive on problem-solving, had no way to solve this one.
In the dim, sad room, not knowing what else to do, I took out my sketchbook, my pencils and pens. We began to talk. Over several hours, it was just the three of us in that room, my mother, my husband, myself. She told us stories of her parents, her grandparents, the house she lived in as a child with her large extended family. She told us about icemen and iceboxes, about sharing her bedroom with an adored younger cousin, about waking up one Christmas morning to no presents under the tree and weeping aunts---her preacher grandfather had died during the night.
While she talked and in the in-between times as she rested, I drew. At the end of the afternoon, I showed her my sketches. She can barely see most times, but she peered and peered and then said "That's me? Let me see them again." When we left her that night, she was not focusing, temporarily anyway, on pain, on being away from her home, on sad and dwindling days.
Next day, she told me "I thought about those drawings all night. I love them." She wanted me to show them to the nurses so I did.
I promised to make more sketches of her on our next visit this Friday---bigger sketches, easier to see.