Today Auntie Hope met me at the door crying. "I'm just so lonely," she said. "Why am I here? I woke up in the middle of the night and I just don't know why I'm here. Do you know?"
I could tell Auntie Hope that her family comes to visit her every week, but she won't remember, and it won't take her present loneliness away.
She asked me how I was doing, and I shared with her how my dad is dying but I can't leave South Africa until our visa paperwork is processed by Home Affairs, and how hard it was to be away from my family at a time like this.
We shared a cup of tea, we cried together, and then she looked at me and said, "Who are you? And why are you here?" Auntie Hope had already forgotten the conversation.
"You know," she said, "My mother owned a laundry when I was growing up, and she sent me away to boarding school." Just like like that, Auntie Hope was back to telling the same two stories that she tells every week. It's funny how quickly she moved on, and how in other areas, she's hopelessly stuck.
Life's like that, isn't it? When someone we love is dying, life can move too quickly. At other times, we're hopelessly stuck. Sometimes we don't remember things that we should, and other times we hang onto things that are best forgotten.
With Auntie Hope, however, there are no expectations. There is only being... being in the present, being accepted, being lonely, being sad, being silly, being thankful, being disoriented, being loved and being forgotten.