Sunday, October 18, 2009


She never completely believed in them. She wanted to I suppose, but after all, how could you ever be sure? She craved concrete, clinged to tangible; the consummate fact checker. Signs were such subtle bastards and she just couldn't get behind that whole way of thinking - most of the time.

Tonight the thought of receiving a sign hadn't even dawned on her. Her only awareness as she rang the doorbell and waited out on the expansive dark porch was that of utmost gratitude that she had had a couple of glasses of wine before arriving.

A kind face greeted her with a smile at the door as she introduced herself. "Is this a bad time?" she asked the woman, who assured her, "No, come in. He's just sleeping"

She found him in the dimly lit master bedroom, in a hospital bed that had been rolled into the same spot his wife's bed used to be, when she was alive. Asleep he was, his mouth open in an O of mock surprise that stood out in contrast to the rest of his emotionless features. His breath came in quiet, efficient little exhales.

She was grateful for the veil of privacy his slumber provided. She hadn't known what to say to him for years and nothing had come to her now either as she stood by the side of the bed. Instead of searching for failing words, she simply tucked her hand around his and marveled at the warmth. What an amazing amount of heat for a dying body to generate! As she rubbed her hand along his forearm she noticed his skin, sallow and smooth like the ivory paper of Chinese lanterns that adorned twilight garden parties.

She heard the woman enter the room behind her and come around the bed, facing her. "You know he is ready - he's 91" Yes, she knew but what to say? What to do? There was no way to tie up their loose ends now. Neither of them had bridged that gap and now the time for such things had passed.

The woman gently roused him and asked if he wanted water. He half swallowed the small spoonfuls as they touched his lips, without opening his eyes. She continued to cradle his hand in hers as she watched the gentle way in which the woman dabbed his mouth after each sip.

Then it came - the sign that is. His hand, still in hers, started to tremble slightly with the intent of his action. Slowly he brought the top of her hand to his mouth and placed a kiss upon it.

There it was -- for all the markers along the path she never saw or chose not to believe in, she snatched this one up. She needed this. She wanted this. No questions asked, no moment lost on skepticism, she was taking it.

Off the hook with this small, tender gesture of deference and affection. There was nothing left to do. No need to say a word. She brought his hand to her mouth then, softly returning.

All was well now, the sign that was borne in with a kiss. Gratitude.

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