I have written many of these posts over the last three years. Especially after her death, I haven’t shared them publicly. In fact, after her death I took most of the ones written when she was alive down… But today, I just feel compelled to share one. I feel compelled to share more of me. Again. 

This is my best friend and one of the soulmates in my existence. I took this photo on the day of the diagnosis, after a long ‘ol conversation and a lot of tears. It was not the first time that sitting on this front porch was heavy and difficult, not even the day it was heaviest and hardest (for me, that would be the day she died, and I was on this porch watching in disbelief and denial as they took her away). It was also not the first time smiles prevailed over hardship there… They always did. But, definitely this was the day that the truest miracle of friendship happened between us – the day we made the hardest promises, and kept them. 

I miss having this in my life – not just her but what we were. I can’t say I wish to have this in my life again – I don’t believe it exists for any of us more than once, if we have it once at all; it would almost feel selfish to ask for it, anyway. But to look back and to be so grateful to have had it once, for half my life, makes me so very aware – joyfully so – of the miracle I had in my life in these people, and still have to some extent because some things just can’t be destroyed by death. 

I don’t know why I’m so randomly missing them today – because that’s the way grief works, I suppose. But today, I do miss them – especially her – from somewhere deep inside my soul. Not just missing a moment or a memory but missing what felt…feels…like such an essential essence to my being. All I know to do is recycle it into whatever it is I can give to the world…

I miss my Dad, my dog, my family and my friends and my life being what it used to be. I want it back. I can’t have that, necessarily… Some things can be mended, some things can’t…either way, it’s never the same. But I feel this today without tears or doubts. I feel this today with nostalgia and gratitude, with a sense of reverence for what it was, and look to it to find the tools to build whatever is next. I feel like that’s such a powerful gift. I don’t want to waste it; I want to live on…and I am. 

This was the time she had a rainbow on her shoulder and it reminded me of Mardi Gras. This one seems fitting for today, being Fat Tuesday and all. I said to her, “when you get better we should go together,” and she said, “yes! And I’m taking my grandson to Utah, too!” Perhaps it’s silly to make plans when you’re not sure whether you’re gonna be there for them…but are we really ever sure? No. We’re really not. 

We plan our lives when we’re well. Then we (Ok, I) get into panic, depression and sickness and feel like our lives are over. We start to think things like, “the best years are behind me, I’m past my prime, I’m too old, I’m too sick, I’m too afraid,” when in reality – and I know this from experience lately – it’s all bullshit! None of it is valid or true. But we use those things as excuses not to live, because the reality within us is that we don’t feel like we deserve to. 

There are many days that I don’t feel like I deserve goodness, love, patience, etc. I’ve done some terrible things to some people in my life while at the same time thought I was doing wonderful things for other people in my life. Sometimes stories don’t align and sometimes relationships fall apart; sometimes while we are doing what we feel in our hearts is right for someone else we are inadvertently hurting another. We do these things because we are human, not because we are horrible people. 

I truly and deeply believe that we are all doing the best we can with what we have and what we believe in any given moment. We make mistakes, we screw things up, we lose people, we inadvertently “break” ourselves. But we forget that we can make ourselves whole again – and we are the ONLY ones who can do that for ourselves. Then, sometimes we realize and accept it but don’t have the strength or courage to do the work. Maybe we just don’t know where to begin. I haven’t, since she died. The lack of her light in my world has left it a very dark place, indeed – but only because I’ve put my own light out with my tears. Death is so final…

I’m doing my best, every day. There are some I wish I could make amends with. I think of them every day but I can’t contact them. That’s one of my inner battles. I just have to – try to – honor them with the way I live my life now, and hope that they know the love is still there, that the love never left. And that’s what I’m trying to do. 

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. -Arthur Ashe 

That’s all I can do, at this point. 

Today I walked my mom to her mailbox with my grandmother’s walking cane. It was iffy. I was terrified. It was very strange to feel the same “fear” for her safety as I often feel for my son’s when I’m the “responsible adult in the room.” It’s very disorienting to have such a very clear role reversal. It’s been semi- like this for a while now, but at this point we have crossed that line very definitely. It’s no longer a sort of blurry line or a dotted line. It’s a very solid line and we have very realistically crossed it. 

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the home health nurse about getting PT out a couple of times a week and having a social worker assigned to the case to help me to make sure I have access to all the resources I need. My mother is gone. As tumultuous as our relationship has always been, I’m still really sad inside, which was unexpected. I don’t know who this woman is. Neither does she. 

I saw a side to my mom when my dad died that I’d never seen – I saw an independent, capable woman emerge, brave and strong and extremely adept. Within months I saw that woman begin to fade away. In the last year I have witnessed (and fought against) the slow decline that has led to this sudden, extreme decline we have been facing over the last month. And the only thing I can say with truth and with compassion is that for her sake, not my own, I hope that dementia is a swift journey for her, like cancer was for Dorie. Because even when you have very little of a good past with a person, this is a very difficult thing to witness. 

It is hard with Granny Dot. With my mom…it’s beyond that. Maybe it’s because it’s not just compassion, but the nitty gritty caregiving I am responsible for with her. I don’t know. I never really liked my mother (because she wasn’t and never has been “my mother,” though I suppose I’ve always loved her, if that makes sense) until now – and it’s because now I’m seeing the mother I always hoped she would become…and I’m seeing that mother, in me… 

C.