Alice in Wanderland
I met Alice twenty-seven years ago, and like the Alice in the 1865 novel, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” she was beautiful inside and out, with blonde hair and crystal blue eyes and a spirit that lit up a room. Over the years, Alice and her husband Mike have been my biggest fans—attending my numerous plays when I was pursuing acting and more recently, when I was producing and directing. When I discovered my purpose and passion—novel writing, they cheered me on and have never doubted once that I’d be successful.
When I met my husband, I couldn’t wait to introduce him to Alice and Mike. I’ll never forget the look on Alice’s face when my husband walked into their house. She held her head back and peered up at his six-foot, three-inch frame and he looked down at her barely four-feet, eleven-inch frame and they both curled over in riotous laughter. “My you’re tall!” Alice who never failed to speak her mind, proclaimed. I couldn’t help but think that Alice had drank the same potion Alice in Wonderland drank that made her small and that my husband had eaten the cake that had made her tall.
From that moment on, my husband grew to love Alice and Mike as much as I did and sometimes I felt, even more. If too much time passed, he would ask “Have you called Alice and Mike recently?” I would scrunch my face and murmur, “No.” Then I’d grab the phone and call them. As soon as he would hear my voice, Mike would ask, “Alrita, is that you?” I didn’t mind him mispronouncing my name. There’s something endearing about it. Then he would yell out to Alice, “It’s Alrita.”
Alice and Mike became our favorite couple friends and we admired how much they loved each other. So when I called them last month, I was saddened to learn that Mike had to have Alice put in a home. Alice has Alzheimer’s and Mike is no longer able to give her the support she needs. He said it all started with her mind wandering aimlessly. He said she began to forget things and even who he was at times. I could hear him choking up while he talked about how difficult it was to put her in the home.
Yesterday, I visited Alice and as soon as she laid eyes on me, she lit up with her trademark smile, and her blues eyes, now a little cloudy, still had a familiar spark. She smothered me in kisses and held my hand. She looked well. I took in the house where she lived and the other residents. I got a good vibe and thanked God that Mike had found a nice second home for her. We talked and she appeared to be confused about things, and I wasn’t sure if she knew my name, but I got a sense that deep within the parts of her mind that were still lucid, she knew it was “Alrita”—the woman she had known for almost three decades, the woman whose dream it is to become a published author.
While Alice squeezed my hand, we exchanged knowing looks and told each other how much we loved each other. Life’s amazing and the only sure thing is change. Here was the vibrant woman I had met twenty-seven years ago, in a different place and space with a different mind, but with the same love that has held our friendship intact over the years. I guess it all makes sense. My husband’s nickname for me is “Rabbit.” There I, the Rabbit sat, next to Alice, praying that she doesn’t fall down any holes and that she holds onto what little memory she has left and the love she and Mike have shared for more than fifty years.