The Importance of a Song

Your face looks the same as when last I saw you—your hair as white as ever. You smile at me as your dear friend introduces us. “Good to meet you.” You say. You sit on the couch, a nice fluffy throw over your lap, and a fluffier stuffed animal in the crook of your arm. I smile a sad smile.

“This thing is interesting,” you say, pointing a shaky finger at the large flat screen tv. “The people in there wear outfits you wouldn’t believe.”

“She still sweeps the sidewalks.” Your dear friend is looking at me. I swallow. The sidewalks. You used to direct the school plays, used to teach classes, used to wave from your porch and say, “Hi, Stephanie!” but now you sweep the sidewalks.

Memories of my grandfather flash through my mind. I avoided visits because my heart couldn’t bear it. I let him sit alone, staring out a window because the memories hurt too much.

I sit by you now—his great-granddaughter in my lap. Her first birthday was last week, and next week, grandpop will celebrate his first year in heaven, too. Baby girl giggles and reaches for your little stuffed dog—you giggle back and offer it to her. My daughter wraps her arms around it and plays with your fingers. You tell her how pretty she is. I look you in the eyes. You’re still in there. I know it. You smile at me—eyes happy but confused. “We used to be neighbors,” I tell you.

“Oh?” You say and titter.

“Yes.” I say, “When I moved in, I locked myself out of my house, and you held the ladder while I climbed through the window.”

You lean back and laugh at my silly joke.

I remember the same laughter from that day. What do we talk about?

“She remembers the old hymns,” your dear friend says. “Knows them word for word.”

“Ah! Would you like to sing a song?” I ask.

“I, I don’t know.” You reply.

“What song do you like?” I press.

Your eyes look lost.

I start to sing. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

You join in with clear voice. “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

I must go and drive the hours home. I wave goodbye—tears in my eyes—the TV reflecting in yours. I will sing to my baby girl tonight and pray she will sing back to me someday.

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