Nurse Flemming watched the resident from across the room, while sitting on the couch, folding laundry. She followed his gaze as he examined one framed picture hanging on the white walls of the living room to the next. Some were of family, some she assumed were friends, maybe even an ex girlfriend or two. It was hard to say and she didn't want to pry so crudely. Especially when he seemed to be in one of his moods. She noticed it was something that he did often — the solemn reminiscing — when in a depressed state. Which was often, even with the medications. Definitely not the time to ask personal questions.
It was an odd contrast, seeing him in the pictures, laughing and seeming so connected and engaged with the other people in the photographs. In one he appeared to be carrying a dainty blonde on his back, running towards whoever was taking the picture. The girl was scrunched forward, her head resting on his left shoulder, windblown locks of hair obscuring his face. Her eyes bright with amusement. Mrs. Flemming wondered what took place after the photo was taken. Did he trip and the two of them tumble to the grassy yard? Did she slide off his back and then face one another with youthful wonderment, fully embracing one another and kissing in the moment?
She felt saddened that the resident didn't seem to embrace that happiness any longer. Smiles and laughs replaced by silence and blank stares. He hadn't been in her care for long, but he made little effort in communicating, even when she made the valiant attempts to.
In a way, she understood, though. When someone once had the freedom to do what they wanted, when they wanted. To be able to fully support themselves and be independent. Then to have tragedy strike. Leaving you partially paralyzed from the waist down. Not only taking the use of your legs from you, but your dignity, your dreams, your hope. It had to be devastating. Not including all of the other health complications involved. Some people learned to accept the changes in their life that were beyond their control. Others never did.
She experienced a wave of compassion for him, wishing she could find a way to connect with him, but knowing that it wasn't her choice. Despite his oft detached disposition, she could tell he was a sweet man. A young man, only in his mid-twenties. Handsome, but being relatively stationary had put a few extra pounds on his bones. It was hard to tell, being he was wheelchair-bound, just how tall he would be were he to fully stand. The nurse had little doubt that he was both striking and charming during his prime. Still could be, if he wanted.
She hoped it was just a matter of time before he became more acclimated to her assistance and eventually opened up more. Maybe he'd never go into detail about his past, but just talking idly about the weather, or random current events, would be a start. She had been told that the previous nurse hadn't had any luck in the full year of her employment working with him. Mrs. Flemming believed it, but wouldn't allow that to discourage her. She could sense something special about him, hidden, wanting to be let out.
But for now she would watch from across the room, folding laundry, until she could find a crack in his barrier.