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Your hollow expression was the first thing I saw as I returned from a walk with one of your neighbors. Seeing you alone in your wheelchair, eyes slightly downward in a vacant stare, I wondered if you might enjoy some company. Still, I was unsure of how my advance would be received.

Just then, you looked up at me and my doubts disappeared. Those vacant eyes were suddenly alive and sparkling with joy, as a wide smile completed the picture. Just like that, you were fully present and engaged, holding out both hands as you greeted me, “Hello beautiful!”

We took a lovely walk outside, stopping to sit for a while by the pretty little goldfish pond. You looked content as you held my hand, falling in and out of a light sleep. I wasn’t the least bit offended. Conversation isn’t always necessary; we shared some very special moments under that beautiful blue sky.

Each time you woke, you glanced up and it was as though we were meeting again for the first time. Your eyes danced as you smiled brightly and squeezed my hand.

“Are you my nurse?”

“No, Mr. Z., I’m just your friend. I came by to visit.”

As we waited for someone to let us back into the building, you gently kissed my hand and told me you were a romantic. I can only imagine what a charmer you must have been 60 or 70 years ago. I’ll bet the ladies were lining up at your door.

Until next time, goodnight my friend. Thank you for our special date. In our short time together, you unwittingly reminded me of what’s important in life; you helped me stop and hear the trickling waterfall and the sweet chorus of chirping birds. Without you, those things would have gone unnoticed this evening, and what a shame that would have been.

*Mr. Z.’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.