Her face has changed. Her moods are dark in the morning. The distance between here and there grows, or perhaps only becomes more apparent. This is the first time I’ve cried. I don’t cry in front of her. She fell in the yard today. I found her sitting on the ground, the dog whining, the 7-pound dog trying to encourage her to stand up and go home.
The television is on all the time. It takes over the room. I say, “Let’s go to the Musical Instrument Museum. You love the Musical Instrument Museum.” But she doesn’t know what or where that is. “No museums,” she says.
“How about a movie?”
“A movie is good,” she says. “Movies take care of themselves.”
So it’s the interaction that’s gone away, the ability to interact with what we so cavalierly call reality. Instead, there are unfinished sentences, a group of words that trail off as the idea behind their formation disappears. This process of dementia is rooted in disappearance. Ghosts.
She makes her way to the kitchen in the middle of the night to eat ice cream or cookies. She has always done this, this unconscious eating (and in the morning has no memory of it). A pile of crumbs. An ice cream container in the bathroom wastebasket. I call it ghost eating. She is feeding her own ghost, the lost part of her, the part that never reconciled her birth with her life; the part that has tried to become someone, is still longing for embodiment as the mind disappears. Though I know better, this appetite for embodiment lifts my heart.
In the car alone I cry and pound the steering wheel. I’ve been caught in the hole in Crystal rapid with the same feeling of unreality. But at least in the hole there was something to do: get out of the hole. Here, there is nothing. Nothing to do, nothing to say. No museums. Maybe a movie. Always the television.
I give her a Christmas card from a friend. “Read it to me,” she says. My heart drops. Is it that she can no longer make out words on a page? She carries books around like a kid though I know they are only a comfort. For months, she hasn’t really been able to follow what’s inside them. She keeps a book open on her lap, or used to. Now it’s just the roaring television spitting colors and opinions and busyness out into the room.
Early in the morning, before she gets up, I stand in that room and soak in the quiet. What is lost? I say those words aloud and cry. What is lost?
A place to discuss writing or anything on your mind. All visitors are invited to join the conversation by commenting on posts, asking questions, and joining the newsletter below for even more opportunities to connect and converse!