She was in the living room when I got to her apartment.
“Hey Mimi, it’s your niece, Rose,” I announce as I close the door and walk over to the living room.
Mimi is sitting in her wheelchair in front of the TV. The 70-something year old woman sat there watching reruns of M*A*S*H coated in static.
“Rose! How are you? I didn’t realize you were coming over.” I lean down and kiss her forehead. She looks up and inspects my face. “Oh, is that scar new? You should be more careful sweetie,” she says, touching my cheek
“I’ll try Mimi,” I say, with a hint of sadness. “So what have you done today?” I sit down in the armchair next to her, facing the TV. I look at the clock. 4:48 p.m.
“I got up and dressed myself, and brushed my teeth—” She looked up, off into the distance as if searching for an answer out the window. “… and came in here and sat down and watched TV.”
“That’s good. Did anyone come by?” I ask.
“Well I had an appointment with the cable man. He was suppose to come by but ー I don’t remember when.”
“That’s okay, we have nowhere else to be,” I say, sinking deeper into the armchair. “Isn’t the static giving you a headache? What else can I put on for you?”
“I don’t know. The cable man was suppose to come by but he hasn’t yet.”
“Are you hungry? Do you want me to make your favorite?” I ask.
“Oh yes, I haven’t eaten all day,” she says, starting to get up. I stop her.
“No no, Mimi, I’ll get it for you. Don’t move.”
“I’m not as frail as you think, sweetie,” she says and as she settles back into her chair to watch M*A*S*H again. I put a blanket on her and kiss her forehead.
“I know,” I say, and make my way into the kitchen. The counters are empty. I open the breadbox and pull out the half loaf of white bread and put it on the counter. Then I retrieve the peanut butter and jelly from the fridge as well as a knife from the drawer. I spread the peanut butter on one slice, than jelly on the other and put the two together, cutting off the crust and giving the sandwich a diagonal cut. I bring it to Mimi in her chair.
“Oh thank you. Don’t forget to clean up the kitchen,” Mimi says, more of a command than a reminder.
I wash off the knife and put it back in the drawer. Then, screw the lids back on the peanut butter and jelly and return them to the fridge. The bread is placed back in the breadbox and I return to the living room. Mimi hadn’t taken a bite.
“Are you going to eat? I made it the way you like it, right?”
“Oh, yes yes. I wasn’t thinking. Is this peanut butter and jelly?” she asks.
“Yes, just the way you like it,” I reply.
“You’re such a good girl. Taking care of an old lady like me. Thank you.” She smiles warmly.
“You’re welcome, Mimi,” I say, heartwarmed by her gratitude.
Then she and I sat there. Hours ticked by as I kept her company through M*A*S*H, then the evening news, then Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Until I finally had to leave.
“Sorry Mimi, but it’s getting late and I need to get home,” I say, getting up from the armchair that was slowly becoming a bed.
“So soon?” she asks, striking me with a saddened look.
“Yes, I’m sorry but I have to get up early tomorrow for work. But I promise I will be back tomorrow. Same time as always.”
“Well okay, don’t keep me waiting,” she says, giving a playful wink. “Did you clean the kitchen?”
“Yes Mimi, I cleaned the kitchen. Let me help you to bed.”
I roll her to her room and help her into her pajamas, and then into her bed. I kiss her on her forehead.
“Goodnight, Mimi. I love you.”
“Goodnight,” she responds.
I leave her apartment and head toward mine. The city at night was cold, bitterly cold. The short walk felt like a mile. When I finally got home, I went straight for my bed. I didn’t even brush my teeth or get into my pajamas. I had been awake 14 hours, I couldn’t afford another minute of consciousness.
After work the next day, I make my way back to Mimi’s. On my way there I pass the playground I use to spend my afternoons at when I was a kid. I remember the days, years ago, when me and my friends would play tag on the playscape, or see who could swing the highest. Or that one time when I went down the slide head first and hit the kid standing at the bottom. We both went crashing to the ground and I got that big gash on my chin. I was crying, but I helped the boy up, and together we went to get help.
I touch my scar, it feels hot, like the day I first got it.
I move on, over to Mimi’s. I get to her door and pause. I stare at the doorknob, hoping today would be different. Hoping for a miracle. I take a deep breath, and open the door.
“Hey Mimi, It’s your niece, Rose,” I announce. I make my way over to the living room, where Mimi sat, watching reruns of M*A*S*H coated in static.
“Rose! How are you? I didn’t realize you were coming over. Oh, is that scar new? You should be more careful sweetie.” she says, smiling.
“I’ll try, Mimi,” I say, smiling back. “I’ll try.”
Sometimes miracles never come.