|Photo Credit: Ivan Prole Zemum, Serbia|
Her words came in breathy effort filled gasps. Over time I learned about her brother, nephew and others. As the memories played out in her mind, flickers of her spirit and beauty shone in her expressions. So much of the time she writhed with pain from muscle spasms in her stiff contracted legs that it was uplifting to see her expressions as she shared her story with me. She worked through waves of pain and grief in distant expressions or in quiet sobs with admiral strength.
In the end, I would arrive with music and books but she was not able to stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time. I would sit at her bedside relieved to take a load off and let my own thoughts take me away. One day when I thought she was sleeping she turned her head and told me that she had noticed that I wasn't as focused or engaged with her. It was quite a reality check. I realized how much a part of this world she still was. Never again would I forget myself when I was with a client.
Shortly after that day I dreamed one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had. In my dream, I saw this woman. She was off in the distance but I knew it was her. She was wearing a beautiful flowing dress not a thread bare hospital issued gown. She was running through a field of yellow flowers freely, without effort. I was flooded with positive feelings as I watched her.
When I woke up I stayed really still. I could still see the image in my mind was still experiencing a flood of happiness. I laid in my bed noting that the dream seemed more real than the feeling of my bed under my body. I woke up for another day of work and on my arrival learned she had passed away. As I was told I just nodded, but in my mind I thought, I know, she came to see me.
It was only afterwards upon reading her death notice in the paper that I realized how many things I'd misunderstood. Her voice was so weak, her ability to communicate so diminished. Even though I misunderstood much of what she tried to tell me, I learned to speak a language that was so much more important. A language about seeing beyond what is before you, and connecting with the spirit of humanity that connects us all.