• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 12
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Each morning, I wake with disappointment that I have not yet passed.

I lay on the plastic-lined mattress until the orderly comes in and says good morning in a tone much too bright for this place. She helps me off of the low bed and wraps an itchy, starch robe around my frail body. At least she still lets me take a piss on my own and with the door shut. Not everyone gets that luxury around here and I relish the brief moments of independence.

Arthritis has rusted my hand into a permanent claw, making it easy to catch the cool water from the tap and splash it on my face. But they prevent me from doing much else.

The days pass in a blur of mushy food, medication, television, and the occasional assisted walk. I was left here some time ago, though I’m not sure how long exactly. Time works differently past the age of ninety. My wife, my perfect fit, died years ago—and with her my sense of usefulness and desire to know what day it was.

I am suspended, alive enough to not be dead yet not truly living, but I am not the only one. We all drift through this place like ghosts, hollow and gaunt. All waiting. Some of us are expectant and some of us are anxious, but we are all waiting. We are all being ushered through the final days of our lives by care workers instead of family members.

At promptly seven o’clock each evening I am back in my room, tucked into the sorry excuse they call a bed. I get one hour of television before another orderly comes in and says goodnight Ted in a tired and bored tone.

Each night, I picture my wife as I drift off with hope that I will see her soon.