Every so often she closes her eyes and clings to me, spotting too scary Halloween decorations from a great distance. Always on the look out. Never quite relaxed all the way.
But in between frights, we talk.
I point out some shrubs with tiny red berries. The kind my Gramma used to have.
"Your Gramma died." she says.
"Yep. She did. She went back to where she came from. Back to pure love." I squeeze her hand.
"And you're going to die someday." She says.
"Yep. We all do." I tell her, trying to sound non-chalant.
"And I'm going to die someday." She says, looking straight forward.
"Yep. Everybody does." I say.
Her arms do their characteristic tic. The one that happens when she's deep in thought, excited about her ideas. I'm still holding hers and it comes out in a sequence of tight squeezes on my hand. Her other arm does it's own thing, sharp, abrupt twisty moves. They means she's happy and I love her arm tics; even as I fear people will pick on her for them. She smiles and says,
"Well, when you die, and when I die, we're gonna be friends."
I say, "Yep. You and me are friends forever and ever."
We walk in silence for a few moments and then she adds,
"Yeah."And I walk with Riley, knowing, in a handful of truly sacred moments in my life, this is one of them.