I bought John a chocolate donut for Christmas. (He has no dietary restrictions, so it was okay.)
John is an old man with Alzheimer's and a broken hip who is stuck in the hospital until someone can find a room for him in a retirement home. He may or may not have a son who may or may not come to visit him on Christmas Day.
When I met John, he was sitting in a wheelchair in front of the nurse's station, wearing red non-slip hospital-issue socks. His old-man boobs were visible beneath the thin blue hospital gown, and his hair stood up wildly in long white wisps from his otherwise-bald head. My mother, standing beside him in her own thin blue hospital gown, introduced us.
When I returned with the donut and a black coffee for my mother, we made our way back to the room they were sharing on the ninth floor, my mother thumping along with her walker, me pushing the wheelchair. Like a gentleman, John invited me to sit down in the hospital chair that was shoved into the corner. I watched as he broke pieces of donut off and ate them. We smiled at each other. He asked me my New Year's plans, twice.
John broke through the fog for a brief moment. He looked around the room, and then he looked at me. "It happens to everyone," he told me urgently, sadly. "This..." And I looked into his old-man eyes and saw the young man there, and I nodded. "Yes."
Hospital rooms during the holidays. The passage of time. Illness and loneliness. Donuts. Death. It happens to everyone.