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ARTICLES / CareVerses / 50 Disorderly Years

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Silent Night
By Joan O’Neill

'Twas the night before Christmas,
and my last visit before leaving for the holidays
found him sitting in semi-darkness, his wheelchair
facing neither the TV nor the door, where he might have
at least caught some movement to stimulate
a brain rapidly grinding to a halt,
delivered to his room like a discarded grocery cart.
My one-sided conversation flickered briefly, and then
burned out; leaving a lengthening silent darkness that deepened
at first, but which became a marvelous glow that illuminated
first the room, then all of Christmas for me.
At that moment, the Alzheimer’s seemed almost
a gift, as if once the words disappeared, our spirits were released
from their imprisonment in thought, and all that remained
was pure, heightened presence. So we sat another silent hour
together, quietly gazing, totally present, a gift unwrapped
by wordlessness.
Not a creature was stirring.




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