I am son who has always been a 'momma's boy'. For the last three years I've witnessed my mother going through Dementia. My sister is her primary caregiver in another state. I've visited to assist with my mother's care as well as cared for her briefly under my own roof. I also happen to be a writer. I've been writing since I was a teen, and I am now middle aged. My mom was always my biggest supporter. Her suffering is breaking my heart. It is hard to describe the sense of helplessness I've felt, but as is my way I've written a lot while coping. I wanted to share something I wrote to try and describe that feeling of helplessness during my last visit to my sister's house over the holidays where my mom currently resides. I figured I'd share this and maybe others going through this will understand.
The Last I Saw Her Smile
It was raining when I arrived,
not a torrent, but that steady pervading
mist over all the peripheral lights,
from the cars to the neon signs, and the distant lights
I watched the tally rise,
as I compressed the trigger within the handle
and memories played across my mind.
The scattered people went about their night
as if the rain wasn’t there.
As if it wasn’t trickling down the glass,
down the reflections at which I stared.
As I wound along the last darkened road beyond the lights
toward my sister’s house,
I wondered just how much I’d get to see my mom this time.
It was Christmas day when I drove us to that station,
me and that stranger with my mother’s face.
I could hear engines running,
the scattered people and what seemed like every day,
though I wondered as we walked…
what sounds my mom was hearing
from that place so far away.
I could see the imposters hands so like my mom’s
in knots as we began to eat.
I could see its eyes darting
to every corner of the room,
as if it was aware,
as if it knew,
my mom was there… somewhere,
buried beneath the noises only she could hear,
buried somewhere in that darkness where unbridled
anxiety conjures things unreal.
It was as if the stranger was worried
their mask just might falter
and let my mother out.
I showed her a picture of us
I’ve kept for all these years.
In better times, just the two of us,
back when my mother was still here.
For the faintest second, I saw my mother smile
and I found myself
caught somewhere between laughter and a tear.
My sister showed me something my mom had written
when last she was away,
within those corridors filled with others
that had also gotten lost along the way.
It was covered in loving epitaphs,
and words of missing me.
I felt every piece left within me break.
She misses me because I’m not there,
I’ve killed myself again.
I’ve tried to find the words,
just to somehow share how this heartbreak feels…
what is there to say when you’ve lost someone,
and yet a stranger wears their face?
People say ‘I can’t begin to imagine’
what it’s like for me…
I can’t imagine just what my mother must feel,
everyday trapped within where all these nightmares are so
People say ‘I can’t begin to imagine’…
I still wish I could,
I’m still trying to find the words.
I’m out of eloquence and metaphors.
I’ve nothing more than this.
It hurts everyday.
It still felt like it was raining the day I had to leave.