Sunday, 31 July 2011

A flash of light

I've known her since I was a teenager; she's in her nineties now. I remember the measured tones of a thoughtful accountant; now deafness cuts her off from most conversation and her carefully chosen clothes don't always survive the long ride to church. I'm in the passenger seat when we draw up to the apartment to pick her up, so I'm the one to ascend the steep steps and signal her through the glass where she's waiting in the lobby. I greet her, but she's concentrating on negotiating the transferral of her cane to accommodate the changing sides of the bannisters. In the car, the rest of us chatter and she is silent. I know better than to try and include her over the roar of the traffic and her hearing aids. She clambers out of the car as we pull up to the ramp leading into the church and she makes a beeline for today's greeter who embraces her and guides her to a seat.

In this Unitarian congregation where I grew up, it has become the custom over the past few decades for those who choose, to line up after the offertory and light small candles off the larger flaming chalice, planting them in one of two bowls of fine sand where they will burn until just before the closing song. I follow Demeter and light my own candle, thinking of loved ones in Hades. As I turn to move back to my seat, I see a hand reach out. It's my thoughtful deaf accountant glowing and smiling at me. I smile and grip her hand, then find my way back to Demeter. I tell her what happened, and she says, "She had just remembered who you were."

(I'm halfway through a house-sit where the computer is, oooh, roughly twenty years old. It's a dial-up. You may not hear much from me until the end of August when I'm back in the grip of Hades.)