The nurse came in and yanked open the curtains. The blinding light hit my face and I cringed.
I took a moment to recover and let the reality of my life settle in as I tried to brush off my sleepy brain.
Bed. I am in a bed and this is my room.
I reach my arm over to the left. The empty spot again reminds me that Thelma is gone.
Everyday I have to start over.
Everyday I have to orient myself to this life without her.
I squinted to see who my nurse was today. The tall skinny one with curly brown hair. Whats her name? Britney? Breanna? My heart sank a little. This one never talked to me. The others did their best to bring a smile and a “good morning” with my morning pills. This nurse always came in with a cold “time for you pills, Clyde” greeting.
I struggled to sit up in bed. She gave me a hand up and handed me a glass of water to help with my pills. I couldn’t blame her. I was one of thirty others she had to get to this morning. All before breakfast. These nurses worked hard.
But after months of minimal human conversation in the mornings, you really long for the way things used to be. When I wasn’t a shadow of a man, a shell of what I once was, too weak to even dress myself.
I used to be up at the crack of dawn, with the roosters. There was much work to be done around my ranch and I couldn’t let the daylight hours slip away. I usually had the animals fed, fresh hay laid out, the cows milked and coming back in for breakfast with a fresh basket of eggs and a whistle.
Thelma would be waiting for me with coffee. Strong black coffee, no cream no sugar. And she would always say good morning, and ask me how I slept. And we would talk. Over eggs and bacon. Cooked just like I like them, sunny side up.
We talked about the weather and what was in the paper that day. We talked about the pastor’s sermon on Sunday. We talked about our children, all in college, earning their degrees. We talked. Never rushed, never deep, just good normal conversation.
I never knew that I would miss our mornings so much. I took them for granted. I took small talk for granted. I took her questions and subtle interest for granted. She and I talked.
And now my conversations are limited to a handfull a week.
I sat there with my feet of the cold ground of this home. No, not a home. A facility. A prison.
I sat there and gave in to my heart’s longing for Thelma, for my chickens and roosters, for my farm, for morning conversation, and for coffee and eggs, sunny side up.