your voice sounds so little and faraway. a tiny girl trapped in an elderly woman’s body. when you lose your memory and forget your self, are you still who you are? the people around you keep you who you are. you will be momma… even now as you have slipped completely out of that role. you will be momma because i will make you so. because i still need you to be so.
“hi momma” i say.
“hi momma” you say.
so tiny like, with barely a voice at all.
“it’s meredith” i say.
“it’s meredith” you say.
i smile to hear my name from you.
the name you gave me, the sound of the sea.
“i love you” i say.
“i love you” you say.
then a pause while brain synapses fire and misfire.
“i love you” you say again.
“mmm, I love you” you say again.
the only thing worth saying: it’s what you remember. in all that you have forgotten, it’s all that you remember and all that truly matters.
the static started nearly three years ago. in winter. when there’s static in the air anyway … it buzzed across phone lines that stretched the 1535 miles that divided us. through cities .. across fields .. over state lines: silence is heavy. it came from conversations gone limp, from all the summer and fall conversations. from all the talk of life and death and the space that lingers in between us buzzing with nothing but static.
when it’s all been said, there is little left to say. but we kept reaching out in our disconnect back then, just to know we were each on the other end of the line. you didn’t always understand me in those early days of dementia. and so to fill your silences and mute the static, i would ramble about the birds flying overhead and how they reminded me of that one time, you remember? when i was little and you carried me through boston? remember my son is that age now, and i seldom carry him anymore but when i do i think of you and how strong you were. and the birds… oh, the birds were soaring overhead so gracefully awaiting spring much like we are now … landing and taking flight again, lifting off from the phone lines that connect us now with all this static.
it’s nearly march now. and i’m feeling the silence of our winter. mourning the disconnection. hushing the static. and finding the beauty of birds in flight.
three years ago i had trouble with the static on the line. it was heavy with loss, with the unknown grief that lingers longer than anyone wants or expects. now we celebrate if there are words. and each word is cherished and meaningful feels like a secret code connecting me to you by our mother daughter heartstrings. now the concept that there is a voice at all, is a simple gift. we’ve come along way stumbling as we have on this crooked little path of dementia. perhaps it took me longer than i wanted to finally realize there’s no need for talk. that i don’t always have the words. that i don’t always know what to say or how to say it or what to share or if it needs to be shared at all. it comes when it comes but seldom leaves when i ask it to. grief is a sullen house guest that has taught me there’s no need for sentences any longer than two or three words in length.
no need for anything more than i love you.
and i love you.
and i love you, again.