I was wearing this same blue top, ten years and one month ago. She was wearing a matching hue— a blouse or sweater in royal blue— our point of connection in a space where names were long gone. I held her hand, looked into her eyes, and saw them sparkle with recognition—a glint of knowing that I was someone special, even if she didn’t know why.
We gathered around her wheelchair— aunt, uncle, cousin, mom— in an otherwise vacant visiting room. Upholstered chairs lined the walls; an old piano stood sentinel. We sang a hymn—she loved to sing— and read from Psalm 103: “He heals all your diseases.” Sometimes on earth, sometimes after.
I got the call in my empty California classroom, a month and a half later. I wouldn’t be flying cross-country. I’d already said goodbye when we’d shared blue and music and heart and hand and somehow knew: we were loved.