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  • I was thinking about Theresa when I tripped, hard, on a crack in one of Roswell's sun-scorched sidewalks. I've had a couple of close calls over the past month, as I've pounded the pavement blinded by the sun that never seems to take a break behind the clouds. But those times, I recovered, and only suffered a quickening of the pulse and a thought flashing in my mind to be more careful.

    But I was thinking about Theresa, with those lost eyes, roaming those nursing home hallways in her white walker, and suddenly, I found myself levitating over the ground. There was no time to prepare, I hit the ground stretched out flat, leaning towards the left, as I had a bag of groceries over my right shoulder.

    I felt that stinging pain of a skin scrape that one becomes familiar with in childhood. My water bottle spilled and soaked the ground. My first thought was that I was glad I picked up some short-term health insurance, as my good benefits expired August 1. I looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my gold medal attempt in klutz arts, but the street was silent. No one but me walks in Roswell in the dead of summer. As I pulled myself off the ground, intact with just a few scrapes to my body and my pride, I peered into my bag. The bottle of wine had somehow survived the fall!

    I dusted myself off and picked my stuff off the gritty, searing Roswell concrete. My thoughts returned to Theresa. She fell this week too, and had to go to the ER. She's a tidy petite lady who lives a few rooms down from my mom in the nursing home. She has dementia, and is always asking where her room is. I know her room number by heart now. She drives the staff crazy with her constant inane questions. But I only have to deal with her for an hour or two a day, so I don't suffer from compassion burnout.

    Today, she turned to me with those pleading, perpetually lost eyes, and asked me, "Do you have a room here?"

    I smiled and said no, that I was just visiting.

    She confided in me, "It's so hard to find a room here. They are all empty!"

    In fact, they are all full.

    She then proceeded to amble down the hallway in her walker, on a desperate search for the person she was before dementia invaded her mind.
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