Last Memories

by Sheila Finkelstein on April 25, 2009

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.

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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.

Flattened Yellow spongey ball

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.

Flattened blue spongey ball

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.)

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa Dinwiddie November 21, 2016 at 8:25 pm

Oh, Sheila, what a beautiful, touching, devastating, and powerful tribute. My deepest condolences for your loss. Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing. What a gift.

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Sheila Finkelstein November 21, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Thanks so much for visiting the site and this post, Melissa, and for your condolences and empowering acknowledgement. Your most appreciated.

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Mel Bohrer November 21, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Sheila, this is beautifully written. I wish you comfort as you visit memories of your husband.

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Sheila Finkelstein November 21, 2016 at 11:28 pm

Thanks so much, Mel. I appreciate your acknowledgement and kind wishes.

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Chere November 22, 2016 at 8:49 am

So touchingly beautiful Sheila! A real tribute to a beloved partner, and what an amazing gift you have to put language to the experience.

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Sheila Finkelstein November 22, 2016 at 11:35 am

Thanks so much, Chere. With regard to your comment on my having a gift to put language to an experience… For me, and others in my experience, this kind of writing evolves when doing free flow to a quote, a phrase, or, in this case, an object… the ball. I’m not sure if this particular piece was written when I was in a writing group where we set a timer (generally for 5 minutes) and simply write to different prompts.

My eye likely happened on the ball across the room. I’m assuming I picked it up and the memories came, as I started writing. Had I intentionally sat down to write “Last Memories”, it would not have come out as poetically beautiful as this piece did. It would have likely been somewhat of a flat story on the experiences and the emotions of those last 2 weeks, more of a report.

The discovery in my files of other moving pieces of free-flow writing, done 5 to 10 years ago, inspired my putting together “Writing for Self-Discovery: Creating Breakthroughs” – http://amzn.to/2fduKe5. This Kindle book is structured with writing examples and suggestions for the reader to open up his or her own self-expression in writing. There are also bonuses offered in the beginning of the book.

Again, thank you for reading, then sharing your acknowledging response.

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