A very pretty October afternoon. Outside the blue sky and white clouds tumble over each other. Jane has decided to stay home and read. The library books in her blue tote bag are each chosen  carefully because the blurbs on the back promise love and happy endings. She settles on the sofa with a cup of herbal tea. An acute observer would detect the presence of a rich nature. And looking closer, might also discover the depths of her kind, loving heart.

The doctor don’t stop by much anymore, the nurse only come in to give medications and the families hover in the doorways assuring one another that everything will be fine in due course. At this moment Jane steps in as  a volunteer, to be the last witness.Jane agrees to make tables capes: to be the one who sits and waits once a situation turns into truly hopeless. After her grand mother’s death in cancer she dedicates most of her time in caring for others.

Jane always imagines lives to be funnel-shaped, they grow narrow as we age and we all begin to swirl faster and faster until the concept of a day or an hour or a year no longer has any meaning.She strongly believes in love and faith to heal others in need.

In the late afternoon her phone vibrates, it is the Hospice again. Jane drives to meet another new person who needs her care. Jane knocks softly adjusting her plaid pleated skirt. An old woman in a peach colored cotton gown opens the door. Her white hair is pulled into a loose bun. She straightens eye-glass.

“ Are you Jane?”

Jane smiles and nods her head. “ You must be Darlene.” Jane says shaking Darlene’s heavily veined but soft hand.

“ Please come in. I want someone to talk to me.People, I mean families, friends used to come and give me company but slowly they stop talking to me.” She folds her arms across her chest. “ Life gets lonely and boring staying in one room. I want real talk.”  She says pouring a small glass of juice in and handing that to Jane. Her heavily veined hands are hidden nicely inside a pair of cotton gloves.

“ I can do that.”Jane replies.

Seventy five years old Darlene has cancer. “ Come sit here tell me about yourself?” Darlene slips one hand into her pocket and pulls out two pieces of fruit flavored candies. “ Doctor has warned me not to take any unhealthy sweet but this is my guilty pleasure.” She giggles handing one to Jane.

They chat for one hour, play one or two card game, recite some poem together until Darlene is ready for her afternoon nap. She used to read tons of books, take long walks but now she does not have energy to thumb through the magazines, even small walks make her tired. Sighing  loudly Darlene stretches out and gets ready for her nap. “This is not fun at all. But your company is very enjoyable.”

The last round of chemo appears to have done  the trick. Doctors are ready to let Darlene go home. But she comes back in two days. She can no longer screen out the everyday toxins of life, so she will spend her last Christmas in Hospice house after all.

Jane takes a couple of movies along with a bag of popcorn and the oversize box of raisins which Darlene loves.

Darlene is excited to see Jane again. “ Come here to the bed. I can not sit so we will watch the movie from here.”

It is the Christmas day. Darlene has been sick all week. The cold has dragged on and her lungs have gotten worse. It is obvious that her immune system has given up.

Jane is in the middle of rearranging her book shelf, when the phone rings. She rushes to see Darlene.A little colorless sunlight has forced its way around the neighboring buildings and lay exhausted across the grey floor. Darlene can not stand to open her eyes and finds herself back in this place where Christmas is carted away in boxes, where angels are being taped into bubble wrap. Jane pulls a chair. She does not have any book to read so instead she sings her favorite Christmas carol to Darlene. “ Silent night, Holy night, All is calm, All is bright..” Jane chokes into tears. She sees the rest of  Darlene’s life in a flash, like a child’s flip book, the pages rushing forward and the pencil thin illustrations slimming down. Jane’s generous heart always wants to see others happy. She does not want to lose Darlene.

This time Darlene opens her eyes. “Hi! You look so pretty in this blue dress! The color is so good on you!” She touches Jane’s hand and wraps her fingers around. “You are an angel! In a few days you brought so much happiness to me. And I enjoy all your stories on hiking trips. If I recover soon then we will go together.” A small smile beams on her face as she closes her tired eyes holding Jane’s hand softly in her.


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