we remember moments
i quite literally spent my childhood daydreaming in the newark airport. she always cried at hello’s and goodbye’s.
that much has not changed.
after ten days together, through distance and space and silence and worry, she holds up two fingers like a gesture of peace. “two months” she says with her smile turned downward holding back the tears that come anyway. tears are stronger than the muscles that try to fight them.
two months seem impossibly far away. and eternally long. sadly, i will find myself wishing this time away. and sadly i am not knowing who she might be when i see her again in two months.
the tension in the house is thicker than cigar smoke. the first day or so we laugh and joke and try to pretend that the sky is not falling. on day three all hell breaks loose in a food fight between father and daughter with unblinking witnesses. just like old times. we can laugh about it now, he says he’ll bronze that crab cake i threw at him. he threw it back.
we are only human.
full of emotion. undeniably full of fear.
this relationship is growing between us. a sprout of life where there used to be nothing. as she slips further into her own world, my dad and i bloom. it is the epitomy of bittersweet. this path is most definitely not something i would have chosen. i never expected to lose her first.
“i’m scared of the diagnosis. we’ll get the diagnosis and then you’ll leave.” he says hunched over before bedtime, a near whisper. “i know” i say, “i’m scared too.”
and then you’ll leave.
and then you’ll leave.
his words hang in the air over my head.
i don’t want to say goodbye but i have to.
we sit three across in the waiting room with the bigscreen tv blasting laugh tracks from some loud morning show. i hear her name and say “that’s you” as we are ushered down the hallway to a small office with only two chairs. my dad leans against the back table in silence. i am glad i cannot see his face.
after polite introductions she throws the first punch in her quiet voice, it all seems nonchalant as she goes over the results of the latest EEG. i don’t know how to be, or where to put my hands when she says directly “this looks like dementia and it’s rapidly progressing…”
i have a list of questions that become blurred in my hands each time i look down, i don’t even know what to say, but i ask them anyway although none of it matters. we all know where this is heading.
my mom is unphased by the prognosis. completely emotionless. it’s jarring. the doctor looks from her to me back to her asking “are you worried? do you understand what we are saying?”
“no, i’m not worried. i’m just in my own little world.”
she looks to me again and i try to smile and explain how we are just very much in the moment right now.
every day. in the moment.
until that is all there is.
a series of moments.
until she is no longer.
this world is a fucked up mess of emotion played out in a public forum. how to be civil, courteous, say thank you and merry christmas when you’ve just been given the truth of the matter: that your mother is quickly forgetting herself. and she soon will forget you, her baby, and everyone around her.
we are on the rollercoaster, no longer teetering on the brink of drop, but we are in mid-air now speeding faster and faster to the end that we all know results in heavy loss. it’s approaching faster than i imagined. and the only thing i know for sure is that i’m not ready to be without her.