I picked her up at the airport, hollow, practically deserted.
“She has Alzheimer’s.”
They quickly gave me a pass to meet her at the gate.
Calling a sweetheart while I wait, wishing to be drunk.
She arrives 80, but girlish, looking happy, lucid and giddy.
It’s so easy when she’s like this to get a tiny bit of hope, like maybe the whole thing has been a bad dream and there she is my mom and she’ll come to me and love me and touch me and things will be different.
But it isn’t a bad dream, its real, it is a horrible thing.
Things took a bad turn at baggage.
“Did you bring my car?” her bloodstream, her legs and breath.
What to say at this moment? And I face the dragon then and there, as I am exceedingly brave, honest and very, very stupid.
“You got lost. The doctor said, he said…no.”
I am trembling now,
I am 4 years old after breaking a vase,
I am 11 wishing she’d stop crying,
I am 16 wanting to date for the first time.
A bit better on the drive home, and we all had a plastic dinner like things were fine.
Later, surreal accusations of course, protestations of how she’ll run away, I’ll never see her again, no one else in her family thinks she’s “horrible, dumb, a nothing.”
And of course I don’t think that but my love just is the kind of love that gets its face slapped, metaphorically, on a daily basis.
We get her home and the fear begins, I’m leaving her there again, alone and losing my own cool
I am 21 and packing to leave for Seattle,
I am 25 and not calling her back,
I am 33 and in denial of her memory changes.
I’m subject changing, fast as a hummingbird, please mama please let’s talk about the leaves in Michigan, let’s talk about the new baby, did you see the new Time magazine?
“I’ll kill myself, she says.”
I’m all the ages I ever was when she said that.
I tell her it looks like she’s gained weight and how pink her cheeks look and how healthy she looks.
And I go home.
And I know we’ll pretty much do the same thing tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
And its painful and as much as I’d like to be witty and wry and make vodka tinted jokes, I can’t right now.
I am 38 and a woman with power who feels powerless in the face of all of this.
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