Everything I’ve ever feared about Life was in that one moment. As I turned the corner into the dining room, I saw the feeble, old woman that my grandmother had become. Stoop-shouldered, gnarled hands that shook on a plastic cane, white hair thinned and transparent. My heart sagged at the sight of her loose skin around her age-speckled face.
How could someone who was larger than life be diminished so?
She had placed herself at the window that looked out into the backyard. From there, she could see her grandchildren who had left their dirty dishes on the table in order to run outside.
I wondered what she thought in that moment. Everything she had worked for, all the sacrifices she had made had abandoned her for a game. She could watch them through a thin pane of glass. The Living.
She coughed, a sound thick with mucus and penury. She turned her head towards me and looked at me with sad, wet eyes. I felt a pinch in the space between my ribs. I felt instantly guilty for my own liveness – my athletic body and boundless energy. I wanted to extend some sort of mercy towards the creature she had become, a wounded doe caught in Death’s Trap.
I felt angry and responsible, locked in her gaze. I was complicit in her downfall. My ignorance was just as harmful to her as the cancer that grew inside of her. My selfish, earth-bound need for her presence suffocated and strangled her; her trapped wings moving ever so slightly with each intake of spiked breath.
A hand was placed on my shoulder and I turned to look at its owner. Cheap words were exchanged.
When I looked back to the woman by the window, she had already returned her gaze to the scene outside. All of her remaining energy focused on the beings that once gave her life purpose.
They did not see her watching.