when i was 23, she was dying and not always coherent. my mom cared for her as her own mother because my dad was unable to. hospitals make him nervous. so do expressions of love.
there was a moment, i’m told, when she looked my mom in the eye and very clearly said “these are meredith’s rings” as she took the set of white gold from her left hand. she was 96 at the time and i felt too young to lose her. too far away.
there comes a time in life, near the end, when the caregivers, or hospital staff, or whoever is mindful… reminds you of the rings. i think of that with such sadness, that when a woman cannot care for herself, when a woman is too weak or too sick; there comes a time to take the rings from her hand.
today my dad took my mother’s rings and put them away for safe keeping. with 12 years between, once again i feel too young to lose her. too far away.
i press the palms of my hands into my eyes. i push hard to make it go away but it doesn’t. nothing can make this go away. the emotion comes with such strength that i am forced to sit on the bathroom floor. something is wrong with my heart.
my heart … it hurts … in a way i’ve never known.
she has no short term memory. my dad speaks in monotone, “every 30 seconds she does the same thing.” she takes off her rings and washes her hands. puts her rings on. takes her rings off. washes her hands. puts her rings on. takes her rings off.
she is very literally losing her mind.
he took her rings today for safe keeping and she will not be getting them back. i press the palm of my hands to my face. i breathe in big choppy gulps. i breathe and wonder if i’m having a heart attack.
i wish i could do more.
i wish to fix something that cannot be fixed.
this is grief.
this is mourning the loss of your mother while she’s still alive.
dementia is cruel.
we stay on the phone with silence. with nothing else to say, but neither of us ready to hang up. today i am witnessing my father’s broken spirit. he is broken and i’m doing my best to hold the little pieces of him together.