Another summer Sunday sampler. This week, it’s another one from Don’t Fear the Reaper.
We were in a fairly large sitting area with chairs and couches arranged in clusters. A few televisions, each tuned to a different station, were on, but no one was watching them. A boy of about thirteen played a game on his Nintendo as his family tended to an old man in a wheelchair. His grandfather, I supposed.
The other visitors stayed close to one another, doting on the loved ones they had come to see. Most of the patients were old, but one—a pretty black woman sitting in the corner—appeared young. Thirty? Thirty-five perhaps? Two small children played at her feet as she smiled at them. She appeared too young to be here, but her thin face and the look in her eyes told me differently. A man and two women sat with her. One might have been her sister. All of them looked seriously deprived of sleep.
In science class, we learned our sense of smell elicited memories better than any of our other senses. It was true. The hospice center smelled differently than a hospital. There, I might have said the combination of antiseptics and bleach reminded me of sickness and disease. Here, I swore I detected impending death—musty and faint, like old memories and dried flowers tucked away in a box of keepsakes. The scent made me think of Gram and her last days.
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