They scoot their wheelchairs along the floor as we sing Christmas songs to them.
Joy to the world.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining.
Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright.
Our voices sing, their wheelchairs follow. We pass by room after room. We walk by a room ,and I watch as an elderly lady is mouthing the words to Silent Night as she lies completely immobile. My voice shakes on the next few notes. Because, that lady has a history. She has a life…perhaps a husband, children all grown up. She was 18 just like me. She could walk and sing and dance. Now, she lies in a bed singing Silent Night to the ceiling as a group of youthful lives ,able and strong, pass by her room.
We sing Deck the Halls ,and a man claps his hands to the beat as best he can. O if he could, he would be dancing down those halls in time to the music. A woman scoots her wheelchair back to her room and finds her Santa hat to join in the festivities. She is proud of her hat, excited to participate.
The youngest of our group is one years old. A lady who is beginning to lose her hair has reached to hold the little girl. The elderly woman is content to just stare at the child on her lap. She says to us, “To me, this is everything that love is.” I am moved.
Our music has come to a close, and I want to come back to this place full of people. I want to see them again. Why? Because, I am them. One day, I will be lying in a bed singing Silent Night to myself. I will be clapping to music from my wheelchair ,and it will have been the best part of my day. I will be scooting my wheelchair to grab my Santa hat as I try to participate in the only way I can. I will be losing my hair, holding a one year old…aching to feel those little hands touch my own wrinkled fingers. I am these people.
I will not be young forever. This season is only for a moment, a short breath of time. Precious youth will pass. I will be old, listening to Christmas carols, and it will make my day.