March 3, 2021:
"I've become an old lady!", she said, on the street, in a tone of great surprise, tears welling.
She was in pain, for her life, for her obvious winding down.
It would have been an opportunity to communicate, something we achieved only a handful of times in our lives together. I wish I had responded with sympathy.
Instead I responded with surprise, firstly that she'd confided an emotion, secondly that something so straightforward had caught her off guard. I must have given the appearance of irony, in any case lack of sympathy, because she read my face and immediately shut down, drawing herself back for physical separation, hardening her features. Becoming the reserved, distant, non-presence I'd come to expect.
It was a mistake to encourage her to move near me. Neither of us was ready, so that in the end it increased rather than repaired our isolation, leaving her dead and me with lifetimes of ineluctable regret.