After several long days of travel, worry, sleep deprivation, and endless frustration, I broke down in tears in a restaurant in a small town in Colorado. I had been with my dad at the hospital for several days before and was exhausted. He was admitted for heart trouble and on this day I had driven him 6 hours back to his hometown after getting up at 3 am. But Dad, having more energy than me apparently, insisted that we go out to dinner -- when I was ready to pass out in bed. He wanted to go out to eat with his good friends, a couple in their early 70's.
I don’t think that Dad even noticed when I burst into tears and excused myself to the bathroom to try and pull myself together. When I got back to the table, Nora (Bill’s beautiful wife who has Alzheimer’s), asked if I wanted to share her chocolate cream pie with her. I was surprised because she and I had just sat through the entire dinner not talking - she being locked in the netherworld of dementia; and me - I didn’t have an ounce of energy left to puzzle out conversation that I couldn’t hear. (My dad's Parkinson's has made his voice soft and garbled and with my deafness, the last 48 hours put me at the end of my rope.)
I felt like both Nora and I were invisible through the entire evening, nodding and smiling the best we could. But then in a way that only happens when two souls really meet, she reached through both of our barriers with the chocolate pie. One plate, two forks - and we had a real conversation. I told her that she made my night and she nodded and smiled back in complete understanding. She told me a few things in my ear, just for me, that saved me that night. I so wish I’d known her back in the day, but I see her, still.