Anna is talking over the fence to a woman who is taking her turn at the bedside of her dying grandmother.
It is the last days of a long decline for a kind, old woman who is bedded in her living room and in and out of awareness of this life on Earth.
The granddaughter steps outside for a small dab of the freshness of sun and air. Anna says hello and they talk for a short time about the dogs and the toys in the yard and the tulips that have faded and the truck that is on the street.
And the 30ish granddaughter looks deep into the blue eyes and curly hair of Anna to see again the expectations of youth and the beginnings of life and the flourishing tide of health and the blooming of beauty. Anna is her respite from the failure of age and the anticipation of death and the worsening of illness and the inevitability of it all. And she smiles.
Their conversation is raw and truthful. As is usual when engaged with a not-quite-3-year-old, there are direct questions and many whys and some loss in the translation and several unexpected references to people and happenings that seem unconnected to the point at hand. Without the filters of practiced manners and learned intimidation, Anna speaks exactly what she knows and nothing else. Pure words and thoughts, tumbling out with no stopping, like water flowing during spring run-off.
And so, when the granddaughter says she is going back to the side of her grandmother, Anna asks, “Why?”
And the granddaughter says, “Because I like to be with my grandma.”
And Anna replies, “I like to hold my grandma’s hand.”
Then, after a long pause, the granddaughter looks at Anna and says, “I like to hold my grandma’s hand too.”
And Anna teaches yet again. To always hold hands when you can. To hold on tightly to those you love. In your heart. Always. Never miss that chance.