Source:     2008-05-22  我要投稿   论坛   Favorite  

Beautiful, She Said    

  I never thought that I understood her. She always seemed so far away from me. I loved her, of course. We shared mutual love from the day I was born. I came into this world with a bashed head and deformed features because of the hard labor my mother had gone through. Family members and friends wrinkled their noses at the disfigured baby I was. They all commented on how much I looked like a beat-up football player. But no, not her. Nana thought I was beautiful. Her eyes twinkled with splendor and happiness at the ugly baby in her arms. Her first granddaughter. Beautiful, she said.
  Before final exams in my junior year of high school, she died. Seven years ago, her doctors diagnosed Nana with Alzheimer’s disease. Seven years ago, our family became experts on this disease as, slowly, we lost her.
  She always spoke in fragmented sentences. As the years passed, the words she spoke became fewer and fewer, until finally she said nothing at all. We were lucky to get one occasional word out of her. It was then our family knew she was near the end.
  About a week or so before she died, she lost the abilities for her body to function at all, and the doctors decided to move her to a hospice. A hospice. Where those who entered would never come out.
  I told my parents I wanted to see her. I had to see her. My uncontrollable curiosity had taken a step above my gut-wrenching fear.
  My mother brought me to the hospice two days after my request. My grandfather and two of my aunts were there as well, but all hung back in the hallway as I entered Nana’s room. She was sitting in a big, fluffy chair next to her bed, slouched over, eyes shut, mouth numbly hanging open. The morphine was keeping her asleep. My eyes darted around the room at the windows, the flowers, and the way Nana looked. I was struggling very hard to take it all in, knowing that this would be the last time I ever saw her alive.
  I slowly sat down across from her. I took her left hand and held it in mine, brushing a stray lock of golden hair away from her face. I just sat and stared, motionless, in front of her, unable to feel anything. I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out. I could not get over how awful she looked sitting there, helpless.
  Then it happened. Her little hand wrapped around mine tighter and tighter. Her voice began what sounded like a soft howl. She seemed to be crying in pain. And then, she spoke.
  “Jessica,” Plain as day. My name. Mine. Out of 4 children, 2 son-in-laws, 1 daughter-in-law, and 6 grandchildren, she knew it was me.
  At that moment, it was like someone was showing a family filmstrip in my head. I saw Nana at my baptizing. I saw her at my fourteen dance recitals. I saw her bringing me roses and beaming with pride. I saw her tap dancing on our kitchen floor. I saw her pointing at her own wrinkled cheeks and telling me that it was from her that I inherited my big dimples. I saw her playing games with us grandkids while the other adults ate Thanksgiving dinner. I saw her sitting with me in my living room at Christmas time admiring our brightly decorated tree.
I then looked at her as she wasand I cried.
  I knew she would never see my final senior dance recital. I knew she would never see me cheer for another football game. I knew she would never sit with me and admire our Christmas tree again. I knew she would never see me go off to my senior prom. I knew she would never see me graduate high school or college or see me get married. And I knew she would never be there the day my first child was born. This made tear after tear roll down my face.
  But above all, I cried because I finally knew how she had felt the day I had been born. She had looked through what she saw on the outside and looked to the inside and saw a life.
  I slowly released her hand from mine and brushed away the tears staining her cheeks, and mine. I stood, leaned over, and kissed her.    
  “You look beautiful.”
  And with one long last look, I turned and left the hospice.



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