"You know, being alone is something I never wished for in life."
This was Auntie Hope's greeting as I walked up the path to her flat this morning. She then recounted the story of her lonely life - not knowing her father because he died when she was a baby, growing up with a working mom who sent her off to boarding school, marrying and then becoming a widow less than ten years later, and now living in a flat at a retirement centre where the silence is sometimes deafening.
"And every time, I just end up back at square one: Lonely."
Auntie Hope's perspective is skewed because of the Alzheimer's but nevertheless - we can ALL relate to feeling lonely and how isolating and painful it can be. There was no encouragement to offer her, no words of wisdom. The only thing to do was to sit and share the loneliness with her. We drank tea together, we laughed about her cat, we talked about the weather and raising children, and we shared our heartaches.
When it was time to go I gave her a hug and the words just slipped from my mouth, "I love you, Auntie Hope." She paused for a split second. "I love you, too. And I enjoy our visits."