I was asked to go in on a Saturday
because the Korean woman had been having a hard time. It was because of the doll.
She has a doll that the nursing home bought her, an ugly plastic doll without hair and with mismatched eyes that never close.
She carries it like a child, wrapped in a blanket that she'd knitted. It was her child she'd say. It was her responsibility.
My daughter is sleeping, she told me once, pointing at the doll on her bed - but then she laughed and whispered, "i know it's crazy."
Last week they took it without telling her. They washed it, took off the blanket she'd wrapped around it, and gave it new clothes,
and when they gave it back to her she was frantic. She wouldn't stop sobbing and asked them why? why to her baby?
Then she punched another resident.
When I went, I didn't know what to expect. I thought she'd be upset, or perhaps she wouldn't recognize me.
But she did. She clapped her hands and scolded me for not coming sooner.
She even recognized that I'd had my hair cut -
and she wouldn't let go of my hand even when it was time for dinner.
She told me that she'd been having a hard time
but when I asked why,
she said not to worry about it.
She laughed as one of the residents started dancing around us between the dining tables- twirling and shuffling in a semi jig.
When I had to leave, she walked me to the elevator,
hand clasped in mine. When the doors opened, I was worried that she'd try to come down with me,
but she only gave me a hug, and pushed my hair from my face
She pointed at her ankle bracelet - they need me to stay here, she said. I'm supposed to stay here.
She's the only resident on the floor who seems to know where she is, the only one who never asks when she's going home.
It always makes me think that she knows more than everyone realizes.
I wondered if she suspected what was about to happen
that they would take the doll while she slept.
"She'll forget about it in a few days," they told me.
I hope that is true.