My dearest friend from grade school made the effort to visit soon after my stroke. Living far apart, we don't often see each other. She brought her six-year-old son with her.
"Zachary," I told him, "Your mommy and I were your age when we became friends."
This did not interest him. Nor did our conversation, which we gorged on, sitting before the fireplace in my backyard. Taking pity at last on the bored child, I told my friend where to find leftover sparklers from the Fourth of July.
The two of them danced, sparklers crackling, my friend’s graceful arms waving overhead, her son spinning like a dervish. I began to weep. My friend took me in her arms and held me.
When Zachary's sparkler burned out, he came for another one.
"Why are you crying, Marcie?"
Because I can't dance anymore. Because this is my life now.
"Because you and your mommy's dancing is so beautiful." And that was true, too.
"Thank you," he said. And his mom lit more sparklers and they danced some more, throwing pieces of light into the darkness.
If I had been well, I would have been dancing with them, and I wouldn't have this memory that moves me more than dancing ever did.