Oscar opened his eyes slowly and didn’t recognize the place. He didn’t know the room, the lights, nothing. The only sounds were the periodic beeps of the various machines monitoring his heartbeat and body temperature. He looked at the table on the left and saw framed pictures of the only moments he could remember. He turned his head towards the right side of the room and found Sophie dozing silently on the couch. He smiled and said, “There she is”. She opened her eyes and smiled at him.
The first time he had seen her was a day he could never forget. A mutual friend had set them up for a date. He was running fifteen minutes late. He dashed out of the cab as fast as he could after paying the fare. For the rest of his life, he had described the next twenty seconds something like this, “I saw her waiting, waiting for me at table number 7. The way her eyes looked when she smiled, I felt like crying. I knew that she was the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I looked at her and said to myself “There she is”.”
Six months later they got married. And two years later, he started forgetting things. Doctor said it was early onset of Alzheimer’s. Sophie started staying at home all the time, working from home itself and taking care of the man she loved so much.
Five years had passed since then. Oscar’s disease had hit him with full force leaving behind a broken man. He remembered nothing except Sophie. And during his periods of acute dementia, when he had a few moments of clarity, he would kiss Sophie and utter his three favorite words “There she is.” He would remember their first date, their initial life and then like a firefly, that entire glow would fade slowly.
Sophie looked at Oscar lovingly and adjusted his pillow so that he could be more comfortable. She sat on the couch and looked at the first man whom she had managed to love truly. Then that smile slowly faded.
She went outside the hospital room. On a chair sat Matt, the person who was responsible for them meeting each other. As she occupied the chair next to him, Matt asked, “How’s he doing?” Sophie let out a sigh and looked at Matt, “His heart his stable now. The doctors cleared up the blocked arteries. They say I can take him home this weekend.” Matt squeezed her hand and leaned in to kiss her forehead. “Don’t worry Sophie. I’m there with you through all this.” She suddenly felt sick. She told Matt she had to use the toilet. She locked the toilet door behind her and broke down crying! “What am I doing?! I love Oscar! What the hell am I doing with Matt?” she asked herself.
She looked at herself in the mirror and started talking to herself. “I can’t take care of him anymore. I’ve known my husband longer with Alzheimer’s than without. I’ve watched more of him disappear than I ever got to know. I just can’t do this anymore.”
Oscar gained his senses and became aware of his surroundings. He found Sophie sitting next to his bed, smiling. “There she is!” came out his voice, loaded with love and affection for the woman of his dreams. “Yes, Oscar sweetheart. Here I am”, said Sophie. Her voice sounded heavy and sad. “I need to go and see the doctor, honey. Now, you be a good boy and don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.”
She stepped out of the room silently closing the door behind her. The nurse handed her a clipboard with various forms attached. Sophie paused for a moment and then signed on all the forms. She was sending Oscar to a special facility where they took care of people like Oscar.
She handed over the forms to the nurse and looked at Matt. He put his arms around her and they walked in silence down the hospital corridor.