I spent time with M yesterday morning and she made a comment about how she will never visit a beach or see the ocean again. This was simply a statement, not a complaint. I didn’t know how to respond except to reach for her hand and give her a smile I can only hope conveyed my genuine… what? My genuine what? I don’t know if there’s a word for it. Sympathy? What is that feeling called when you look into someone’s eyes and all the firsts and lasts that blur together to make up a life, your life, flash through your mind? What is it you feel when you stand at one end of time, barely beginning, and you are touching the weathered paper skin of someone’s hand at the other end? Relief? Thank god for the years I (assume I) have left? Thank god I will see a beach again? Maybe it’s helplessness. I can’t help. I can’t offer her some of my years, some of my physical strength. I can’t reassure her she will travel the world again. She won’t. Sometimes reality is solid and truth is frustratingly less fluid than usual. I can’t make anything better for her beyond whichever moment we are in. Maybe that’s enough. Maybe it isn’t. I can’t get this out of my head today.


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