You were there in your room, only half yours. I remember you didn't really like your roommate, she talked in her sleep and kept mistaking your then son-in-law for her husband. I remember that irked you more than the sleep-talking.
I remember holding your hand, sitting by the side of your bed, listening to your labored breathing, your fragile voice speaking love for me and hate for everything else that surrounded you. I remember you almost had your mind back, but maybe that was just my imagination.
Those sterile, white corridors were so long, and they led to other sad stories in each room. I don’t think your roommate ever actually had visitors. I don’t remember her name.
Your bedside table had pictures of all of your great-grandchildren, but you could only remember who I was, not any of the others. I felt sad for them, but I reveled in how you still remembered me when your mind was almost gone - or was it still there, just hiding? I wanted you to come back from whatever had its hold on you, but your mind was tired and it finally was giving in.
I walked you down those hallways once, to the cafeteria located in the other side of the building. I held your arm, that wisp of an arm, so gently and lightly as we walked, going slow so that you could keep a steady pace with your walker and so you wouldn't get out of breath.
I remember the second to last time I came to your room in that oppressive building, snow and slush covering the ground. I walked down that never-ending impersonal corridor to your room, holding your daughter, my grandmother’s, hand. I had a piece of the pumpkin pie I made in my free hand, so happy to bring you something you’d like. You gave me a blanket in return for that pie, a blanket that looked like autumn, all golden and red leaves and warm against the wind. I fed you bite by bite while the three of us watched one of your daytime programs. You thanked us as we left, kissing me good-bye.
I trudged down that hallway, blanket pressed close to my chest, knowing it wouldn’t be long, knowing that you were ready to go.
I knew you didn’t want to see any more of those long, white, intolerably lonely hallways.