It's been a hard week for me. Mom said recently she's been feeling dizzy when she first wakes up, and isn't sure who or where she is, and doesn't know what to do.
These incremental losses are excruciating. Alzheimer's is called "The Long Goodbye." But that fails to capture the agony of watching a loved one slip out of reach. It's grieving in slow motion.
These are the things that have been on my mind lately.
Mom, how greedy of me to want more mothering than what you've already given me. But I know you weren't done, either. What you had left to give was stolen from us both.
What a rich, deep life you've given each of your children, thick with memories of your smile, your scent, your body's warmth, your voice, your hands. All the synonyms for "nurture" flow through you like sap through birch limbs. Because your roots run so deep, we know you are in good hands.
Seeing someone cry isn't the same as understanding their grief. Unless you too have stood on the precipice, the mouth of a gaping, dark, bottomless hole. Grief is a wide open mouth, crying too deeply to be heard. It's in the belly, reaching out toward things that can't be held.
Monolithic - that's what Mom's become to me. An ideal, a heroine, a goddess. In real life she smells unwashed, she fidgets and stammers, her unshaven legs are scaly they're so dry. But in my mind's eye she's verdant and lush and happy and angelic. It's because I know the real person, the one hidden by dementia.
Living in grief is bitter. But it concentrates everything. Pain is difficult and condensed. Beauty and appreciation are overwhelming, too. It's all breathtaking. A tea bag in hot water knows what I'm trying to describe.
"What's the price of a pet canary? God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail - even numbering the hairs on your head. You're worth more than a million canaries."