I pushed through the heavy door. Walked to the reception counter where the receptionist never spoke with me unless I spoke first. I Signed my name but did not write down anything under “Reason For Visit”.
As I was signing in I heard a high pitched “song” being sung. I put the pen down, looked at the receptionist who was ignoring me though she was only about 18 inches from me, and facing me. I couldn’t hear the song but I could hear the tune of it, and the tune of her voice. I turned 180 degrees to head up the first hall. My plan was to walk the length of the hall, turn right down the second hall and finally turn left on the third hall.
But when I stepped in to the first hall I had to stop.
I slowly walked past the first door on my left. Looking in as I passed. I stopped before I got to the second door on the left and leaned against the wall with my left shoulder.
Just to listen.
Listen to one frail voice singing very loudly. Joyfully. Word for word, the right words to almost every song. Louder, and more joyfully, than everyone else. Including the song director, who was also the piano player.
I leaned forward and rolled my head around the doorway, peeking into the cafeteria. There was a group of people sitting in half circle layers before the woman playing the portable organ.
I pulled back again. I didn’t want them to see me. I just wanted to listen and listen some more.
Twice, staff stopped and asked me if I needed help finding someone. Twice I said “no, I just want to listen”.
The room was full of people. A room full of history and memories. A room full of parents. A room full of lovers. A room full of workers. A room full of students. A room full of veterans. A room full of sorrows lived. A room full of secrets told and secrets kept. A room full of laughter and jokes and brilliantly fun times. A room full of loss. A room full of promise. A room full of heart break. A room full of loves promise. A room full of youth grown old.
Looking in the room so many would see ‘old’.
But I saw a room of life. And music playing. And life singing.
I had to walk away-to work. It’s why I was there. As I walked away her voice and the voice of the others followed me. Her voice following me the longest. But I headed back to that first hallway, that second doorway, when I was done. Her voice pulling me and leading my way back.
This time I stood in the doorway. Next to a staff member. I watched. I listened. I found her voice. I found her. She looked at me. It had to be one of those “I feel someone looking at me”sensations. Because I was looking at her.
I gave her a “thumbs up”. She smiled and waved her tambourine at me.
It was the last song.
I was sad it was over.
The singing piano playing lady told them how magnificent they were. And they were.
The room was so full. Of so much. That couldn’t be seen.
I had to leave and as I left I thought….. Sing me this song. When I sit in that room. Where others see old. I want to be the life. The music. The song. I want to be that loud frail voice singing joyfully.
And shaking my tambourine at someone.
I pushed my way back out through that heavy door.