“How did you get here, Helen?” Natalie asks me.
“I’m not Helen,” I say. “I’m Grace. And David is here too.”
“Oh,” Natalie says, nodding, her eyes unfocused. She’s almost completely blind from macular degeneration. She has been for years, and now that she’s in Hospice, after a year of disorienting illness and moving around from home to hospital to rehab to home to hospital to rehab, over and over and over, when she has any idea at all who is with her it’s a victory. “Is this real?” she asks.
“I think it is,” I answer. “And that’s a really good question,” I say. “You’ve had so much confusion over the past year, checking in about what’s real and what isn’t makes sense.”
“And we’re happy to help you understand what’s real,” David says, coming over to touch Natalie’s arm. I’m holding her hand.
“Is this a truck visit?” Natalie asks. We’re back after two days, having been to New York for Emilio’s birthday party. We’re on our way back to New Hampshire.
“What’s a truck visit?” David asks. “People who come on a truck?”
“Yes,” Natalie says.
“We didn’t come on a truck,” David says.
“We’ve been to Emilio’s birthday party,” I say and Natalie puffs out her cheeks. “Are you making cheeks like Emilio’s?” I ask and she nods.
After I’ve helped her drink some water and eat some soup for lunch I ask, “Are you comfortable? Do you want me to put your bed back down?” We’ve raised the head of the bed so she can eat and drink.
“That’s two questions,” she says.
“You’re right,” I say. “Are you comfortable?”
“You can ask me two questions,” she says.
“Okay. Are you comfortable? Do you want me to put your bed back down?” Natalie nods and I press the button and the bed flattens.