Tiny Rena Shelstein, 84 years old, barely made a dent in the warm bed, as she rolled over to put her hand on her husband’s chest. But then she remembered he wasn’t there.
“Oy! Cyril, why? Why’d you have to go and leave me like this? I need you to scratch between my shoulder blades, you schmuck, and you had to go fly up to the Almighty instead! I miss you. I swear I could hear you snoring in my ear last night.”
Rena often talked to Cyril in the dark. He’d died the year before but was as alive for her now as he was every day of the 54 years of their marriage. Rena rolled back over to her side of the bed and extended a slender, small arm to turn on her beside lamp. A pool of glowing warmth spotlighted her.
“So my darling, today is drama club day. Gotta get these creaking old bones up and start to get ready for our rehearsal!” Rena emitted a small groan and slowly extricated herself from under the layers of blankets that held her captive. She was always cold, and had always slept under many covers, even in summer up at their un-airconditioned Lake house. The covers helped her feel like her tiny, light body could stay earthbound, and not float away.
Lately, the bed covers had been more and more difficult to move out from under. But this morning, she summoned her considerable energies – or what was left of them – and got herself into the bathroom to retrieve her teeth.
After fixing her morning Red Rose tea, she toasted, buttered and cream-cheesed half a bagel and settled down to magnify her script for the day’s rehearsal. Rena ‘s eyesight was all but gone, so in order to read anything, – and Rena read everything she could get her hands on – her social worker had managed to obtain for her a machine that took ordinary sized printed matter, project it onto the wall in a huge readable font, and then print it out onto pages and pages of large-print paper. Today she had to prepare Act Two, Scenes One and Two of Romeo and Juliet.
The small one bedroom apartment, dark in the dawning of the winter day, grey and chilly, was suddenly filled with a wall crowded with the most gorgeous language ever written, as the words of Shakespeare slowly appeared to surround her. Rena’s small brown eyes widened, and a mist seemed to disappear, as Rena let herself be wrapped entirely in iambic pentameter. She could now happily live one more day.