I walked back into his hospital room after a satisfying lunch. He was sitting straight in a big armchair, body slightly propped with a pillow. A table cart was in front of him. As I walked toward him a bright smile appeared and lit his face.
I sat across from him, told him about my outing and asked about his. He probably struggled with some words. I don’t remember. What I do remember is playing with the ball, the spongey one with hundreds of inch long extensions encompassing it all.
We rolled it back and forth
Tossed it too and
Played a little catch.
Some exercise for him.
Calming for me.
Relaxation and contentment,
Precious moments, so few remained
Though we knew that not.
I think I crawled into his bed for a bit, while he was able to sit in the chair. I was exhausted and craved a bit of rest. We changed places a short time later and that was the last time he was in a chair.
Eleven days later I crawled back into his bed. This time he was in it also. I curved my body against his back and buttocks. Under the sheet, arms hugging and hands caressing. Only moments remained. A couple deep, harsh and gasping breaths. Then he was gone.
And, now, fifteen months later, I play alone with a spongy yellow ball, one of the several we sporadically used, at home. The blue one used in the hospital is someplace amidst my bags, I think. We had a magenta one too, my favorite.
I sit here and pull, stretching, the individual pieces. They bounce back like a rubber band. There is a loop and sometimes we put that on our fingers and gently bounced the ball, an inch or two away from us.
Reminded me of a yo-yo. Only the yo-yo goes almost to the floor and rolls up again, when done with skill, back into the waiting hand. This one doesn’t go far. It fills the whole hand as it returns. Solidly soft it is.
The hollow inside has lost some air, I’d say. No longer in use now, a portion of it flattens out. Though I can pull it out to a full sphere, it’s only temporary. It quickly goes back to flat, supporting a now three-quarter sphere when put to rest on the table.
A symbol of my life it is. Flatness, circular, a multitude of stretchy pieces, possibilities of playfulness. Open to manipulation, it resumes its shape when left alone.
Resilient always. He’s gone. I’m here.
©2009 Sheila Finkelstein
(Note: My beloved husband, Sam Finkelstein, died on November 21, 2007. We were married for 47+ years. He had Parkinson’s Disease for 11 years and out of nowhere contracted a bacterial infection in his blood which ended up playing all kinds of havoc with is body. For more on this wonderful man and for links to his extraordinary black and white photography, see REMEMBERING SAM.)