My hands shook as I traced the lining of the paper. A tear fell and smeared the black ink. I cursed at myself as I wiped away the stray tears and began reading my letter.
I write to you hoping you are well. I miss you. I feel as though it's been forever since we last spoke, but it’s been only two days since I last spoke to you and you didn't know who I was, didn't remember my face. I talked to your care givers and they told me your dementia comes and goes. They said you are to stubborn to forget dad, though. Do you remember him at all?
Of course I remembered him, but I don't remember having any children with Mike. Although, I don't remember the faces in the pictures I have in my room either. Some of the nurses tell me it's my kids. I don't remember having any kids. They say I an very loved, but by who? What is this place I'm at? They say it's my home. When did home feel like a prison?
I put the letter down, unlocked my wheel chair and wheeled myself in front of the mirror. It’s a small mirror the size of a magazine and next to is a soup dispenser and a paper towel rack. Home never felt like a hospital. White walls, constant beeping and lights flashing. Constant nurses and other personnel coming in and out as they please. They knock and announce themselves and I always say come in. They help me dress, brush my teeth, my hair. They tell where I should go or convience me to eat. I feel more and more like a paper doll. Someone’s been playing with, dressing up and telling a story with. I miss the days I was able to dress myself. The way my silky hair feels now is upsetting. Looking in the mirror I look more and more like a grandma. My hair is white as snow and frizzy. My face is wrinkled and thin. My cheeks have never been more defined then they are now. My brown eyes are now lighter almost blue. Memories of my golden brown hair now haunts me. How did I get here? Moments ago I was chasing a boy in a park. The stars lighting up the sky and we both fell and kissed. I thought I was at least sixteen but looking in the mirror I know now. What a silly dream.
“Jason! Wait up!” I giggled as one of my black wedges fell off and I tripped trying to pick it up. I didn’t have to much to drink. Just a couple sips of whatever was in his cup. Mom and Dad would kill me if they found out about the party. I was teenager, what was I gonna do. We fuck up. A lot.
“Em, what on earth are you doing on the ground?” I rolled over and looked up at the sky. The stars were really bright and it looked as if they were falling from the endless night.
“I lost my shoe.” He laughed and got down,gently, joining me on the ground.
“Em, that’s the third time tonight. How much did you drink?” I shrugged and he chuckled.
“You’re such a mess. A beautiful one at that,”I turned my head to look at him and smiled as he did the same. I really feel like this might be the one. The guy I end up marrying, the one who will stand at the end of the aisle in a black tux.
“I really love you, Emerson.” I wiggled closer and kissed his cheek.
“And I really love you, Jason.” He looked at me and I felt that spark of fire in my gut. Is this true love? He leaned in to kiss me and I did the same. A million kisses still would never be enough. I found his lips and kissed him. Our lips locked and I felt a little tease from his tongue.
When we broke away, our clothes were shuffled around and I had to rearrange my top from exposing my bra.
I lost everything to Jason. My first love. ...
I wheeled away from the mirror. I wasn’t the girl anymore. I was older, wiser and stronger. Well as strong as I can be. Two knocks on the door broke me away from my thoughts.
“Emerson? It’s Elizabeth, can I come in?”
“Of course, Ella.”
Ella stepped into the door way, walking over to my side of the room. She was in a pair of jeans and a blue shirt with the nursing homes logo on it, “Faith, Hope and Kindness gets you a long way.” It was nice to see her out of her red scrubs. She was one of my favorites. Always nice and I connect with her compared to the other CNAs.
“How are you, Em?” She kneeled down at the side of my chair, placing her hand on my arm.
“I’m doing ok, honey. How are you?”
“So far so good. Are you ready for breakfast?” I looked out the window and smiled. It was the perfect weather. Foggy and grey. The smell of rain was musky and made me think of home.
“I guess so, if it will make you happy dear.” She laughed.
“Anything to make sure you’re in good health, Em.” Her voice was sweet and she’s was very pretty and young. Why on Earth was she working in such a place like this?
“Do you have your foot pedals on?” I nodded.
“Alright, darling, lets rock and roll.” She took my chair and turned it towards the door. She headed down the tiled floor. I looked at the walls, even though, I’ve been down them millions of times and knew every single picture on the wall. No ones was out and about today, must be a calm morning.
“Ella, do you have a boyfriend? A young girl like you, working long hours, how do you?” She laughed.
“Em, I hav- had a wonderful, caring boyfriend. His name was Ryan. We were together for two years. He understood how I love this place.”
“Oh, I'm sorry, dear?”
" It’s hard, but what love doesn’t have its hard times?”
“I guess you’re right. All loves have hard times.” She became silent and I turned to look at her. She gave me a sympathetic smile. I knew she was thinking of mine. How hard it must be to forget a loved one and have you stare blankly at them because you don’t remember them. It wasnt always like that.
I stood in front of my body length mirror. Staring at an image of myself I only saw in dreams. A floor length white dress with laced sleeves.My hair up in a bun with stray curls framing my face with a veil that wrapped around it and hung in my face. I knew this day would come and I knew I would be this happy, but I could never imagine the butterflies in my stomach.
"Em, It's time." I looked over at my mother, tears in her eyes. She looked older today, more distraught. She was wearing a blue button up shirt with black slacks. She held out her hand and I took it.
No words were spoken as we headed towards the end of the stair case. She reached out and spun a curl around her finger. I smiled and she kissed my hand. We walked down the staircase leading to two big doors. Once opened, I could never turn back. When they open they open to a whole new life.
She opened the doors and extended her arm. I took it. The only father to ever walk me down would be the one who brought me into this life. I didn't need a cowardly man to walk me down to my future.
Jason stood with the preacher wearing a black tux. He smiled at me and that gave me all the reassurance I needed. I walked with my mom to the sound of here comes the bride. When we reached the end she gave me away. Jason took my hand, only making the butterflies worse.
"Emerson, how was breakfast?" I pulled back from my thoughts and looked over at Ella.
"It was as good as it can get," she unlocked my chair and pulled me out of the dinning room, other residents watched as we went.
"See you later, Em!" I turned to wave at Stella, one of the friends I've made here.
"Bye Stella, see you at lunch."
"I saw you ate most of everything. That's great, Em!" Ella pulled over to the left of the hallway as another resident rolled by, smiling as they past.
"I guess so."
"Did you want to go to any of the morning activities? I heard they have a special guest coming in. That might be fun,"
"I think I'll pass today. I'm tired of the same routine. I think I might go sit in the garden." She took a left, heading to the elevators.
"That might be nice, but you might need a jacket. It's a little chilly in there today."
"I'll be ok."
"Alright, floor three here we come."
The facility had three floors. Dining and leisure was on the top and business and rooms on the second. The first floor held the garden, waiting room and the in house doctor. It was the welcome center to the facility as well. I remember the first time I came in. Funny what I do and don't remember.
The first day it was sunny and bright. No cloud in the sky. A doctor wheeled me in and a nurse. She held all the paper work, while the doctor held me. He gave me a tour and introduced me to the front desk lady, she was the sweetest. I knew I wouldn't care for the welcome party and balloon and all, but it felt nice to know some people actually do care about you.
The elevator beeped and we strolled in. Pressing one, Ella looked over at me.
"Are you ok, Em? You seem a little distant today."
"I'm just fine and dandy. I've been thinking today about my past."
"You can always talk to me if you ever need to," she placed her hand on my shoulder.
"I know, dear. You know, I was married two times in my life." I placed my hand on hers and smiled. It felt good to talk to someone other then being in my mind all day.
"Really? What a player you are, Em," she laughed and I did in return.
"My mom always said that when you fall in love, you know when it's with the right person. I was a foul who thought lust was love, but when we ended it took me a while before I found that loving yourself first and then finding love is more significant. That's real love."
"I understand completely. I was in a relationship before this one and I trusted the wrong man. I'm bad at trusting people and sometimes that can cost you more then you think," Ella's voice grew softer and I looked back to see if she was okay. A stray tear ran down her cheek before she quickly wiped it away.
"Ella, I know I'm just a grumpy old woman, but you cant talk to me. I have no one here and I will most likely forget it in the morning anyway." She laughed and squeezed my shoulder.
"Thank you, Em. That means a lot to me. I will definitely hold you to that offer."
I slammed my hand down on my alarm clock and rolled over. Six in the morning. I was running late as usually. I rolled back over and sighed. I placed my hand beside me looking for a body, but again felt nothing but the cold sheets. My phone started ringing and I knew the second it did, it was someone from work, looking for me.
"Hello?" I gripped my phone in my hands.
"Ella, it's Jen. Are you okay? Just running late?"
'Yeah, woke up late. I'll be there soon. Sorry about that," Jen was sweet and I knew she would understand. I just felt bad for her having to stay later.
"It's all good in the hood, sister," she laughed and we said our goodbyes before we hung up. Bracing myself for the day I pushed myself out of bed and wandered to the bathroom.
The wooden floor was cold and my steps echoed in the empty apartment. When I reached the bathroom door, I stumbled looking for the light switch, turning the light on, I looked in the mirror.
I was a disgrace of a person to look at, dark circles under my eyes, the redness surrounding my green irises. My brown hair was matted and in knots. I took a shower last night, so I skipped that morning process. I brushed out my knots and pulled it back into a high pony tail. I took little foundation and applied to my face. Hopefully, that would clear up the dark circles. After a little mascara, I found my way to my closet.
Pulling my red scrubs over my head and tightening my bottoms, I quickly dressed for another day. I grabbed my phone off the end table and put it in my bag, along with my wallet,keys and lunch. I grabbed a blueberry pop tart and headed out the door.
I'd just make coffee at work, I decided, no need to turn on the coffee machine. I locked my apartment and headed down the stairs.
"Hi, Ella. Good morning!" I looked over my shoulder at my neighbor as I stopped on the first step.
"Good morning, Miss Wiesel." She was a kind, older lady who had unhealthy obsession with saying hi to everyone. To other tenants it was annoying, but I think she is sweet. A little bit of kindness can go a long way.
After parking my old, rusty jeep, that my dad gave me on my sixteenth birthday, but that was four years ago. I need to get a new car, before this one leaves me stranded on the freeway.
I got out my badge and keys and made my way to the nursing home. It was a typically Tuesday morning, the sun was starting to rise and the maintenance man, Ralf, was starting the sprinklers on the grass.
"Morning, Ralf," I called to him. He turned and his bald head catching a glimmer of the sun.
"Morning, El." I smiled as I made my way to the front door and scanned my badge. As the door opened I noticed the usual residents sitting by the receptionist.
"Good morning, Kelly, Lilly and Magness," Kelly worked here for maybe three years now and Lilly and Magness have lived here for four years. They were all very sweet and I called them our "welcoming committee."
"Morning, El!" They greeted. Hearing them say my name made me feel loved, like I was finally living up to whatever fate I had.
I made my way to the elevator and pressed floor two. I would do my rounds and then check on my residents. I was assigned to the dementia unit, only because of my specialty in that subject. After my Dad passed away with stage four dementia, I had a little more understanding and hands on learning.
When the elevator doors opened, I noticed something was off. A feeling in the air. One I got when someone passed.