It's the afternoons that I'm a bit afraid of. Starting next week, we're going to spend 2 hours each Wednesday visiting residents of a local nursing home. We get a ton of support for this (discussion/processing sections after each 2-hour time slot, a long orientation today, and so on), but I'm still rather scared of it. Because of the rise of assisted living facilities in the US in recent decades, nursing homes no longer have many of the higher-functioning residents that they used to have. 80% of the people in this home have some form of dementia.
I've never dealt with dementia. All of my elder relatives who have passed away either did so suddenly, after a brief illness, or after a longer illness that didn't significantly affect their mental capacity. And they all died at home and/or surrounded by family. I don't know how I'll be able to deal with talking to people who can't have a rational conversation (same reason I struggle being around kids under the age of 6 or so), and people who are nonetheless so excited to see me because I'm the only one who's actually expressed an interest in talking to them in months. I almost cried a couple times today just listening to the orientation programming. This will likely be the hardest part of the summer for me.
Luckily, Wednesdays also end earlier. I had some free time to send non-rushed emails, just relax in my apartment, finally meet my roommate (!), and have dinner with a few non-yeshiva friends in New York. Given the time dilation associated with all new things and all time-intensive things, I now feel like I've been away from the yeshiva for days rather than 9 hours. Of course, that's not real. Back in 9 and a half more hours!
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