My reverie is interrupted.
I open my eyes to the sound of someone humming “You Are My Sunshine”. I smile as the memory of that song flickers like a flame inside my skull, the last embers struggling to stay alight. Frank loved that song when he was a boy. As I open my eyes, the girl who is humming gives me a big smile, like we have shared a secret. I study her upturned nose. I peer at her heart-shaped face. Her features are familiar in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. She kisses me on the forehead, dons her raincoat, and prepares to leave.
Later in the afternoon – or perhaps an entire day has passed – the sun comes out and warms my room. Seasons blur, but the glow of the sun and the colored paper leaves adorning the walls remind me of fall.
I have always enjoyed fall. Bright leaves keep a tenuous hold on scantily clad branches, and then release in their slow dance towards the waiting ground. The air holds a crisp promise of frosty mornings to come. Flocks of birds, vocal and energetic in their preparations for a long journey, gather in the fields.
In the fall of life, so they say, you can look back with pride on a life well lived. That may be true, but it seems to me that fall can also leave you feeling empty inside – left to wonder where the summer has gone.
I am lying on a soft woolen blanket, under the big maple tree that grows directly outside my window. My wheelchair is close by, but I am unconcerned about the fact that it is there, and I am here. There is no nurse to ask about my pain level, or tell me to take my medication, or convince me to go back to bed. I stretch out luxuriously, limbs moving in ways that have become unfamiliar. No pain, no resistance – just the release of muscles that have been cramped and stagnant for far too long.
The sun’s weak rays caress my cheeks, and I imagine that I am being wrapped in a golden glow. Leaves spiral down, the colorful confetti gently coming to rest on my outstretched body. I feel like nature is throwing a party, and I am the honored guest.
In the distance, I hear the Canada geese calling, telling the others that it is time to come home.
And I smile, and sigh, and open my eyes wide in anticipation.