“Goodness, there’s a lot of mud on the road,” I say with a quick glance at my friend Thomas, sitting in the passenger seat.
“Yes,” he says.
Thomas is only a few years older than me, but he has early onset dementia and has been living in a care home for the past three years. When he first went there he talked a lot but it was like listening to someone describing their dreams. Now he says very little. I’ve learnt not to expect it. Most of the time I drive in slow silence along country lanes. I once tried taking him past our local cathedral but it was too big and busy for him. It just did not register with him, even when I pointed it out. Thomas smiles at me on my infrequent visits; I’m not sure that he has any idea who I am.
Sometimes when I am out driving with him, I think that this is what eternity is like. This time with Thomas exists only in the present. He has no future – or no future as I understand it. Our shared past is inaccessible to him. But this moment is offered to both of us as a gift from God.
I stop the car by a country church.
“Shall we get out and look at the daffodils?” I ask him.
“That would be a nice thing to do,” he replies. This is the first sentence he has spoken, but as we walk up the path he talks about the briskness of the wind.
Last time we came he commented on the peace: “It’s so peaceful here. Peace, perfect peace.”
He doesn’t this time but I hope he feels it…