This was the first year Mother’s Day was hard for me, and this feeling takes me by surprise. When I go to see her, I’m usually chirpy and full of updates – which will never be understood but make me feel better to put out there.
This year, I had fully expected to do that when I went with the whole family. I’d like to think that somewhere in her mind, or maybe in a metaphysical way, she can feel our love.
We arrived at the care home, sat down on the sofa with her. She’s very loving and all she has done for a while now is repeatedly look at me and tell me, “I love you.”
She is a very sweet lady and we’re lucky this disease, which carves itself into a person’s psyche in unpredictable ways, has not changed her demeanor. Other people get paranoid and angry. She’s pleasant.
For some reason, when she told me she loved me, I looked into her eyes and held the gaze. I felt a connection.
Maybe it’s my imagination, but I felt she was actually present and comprehending that moment. We looked at each other. She said it again.
“I love you too, Mom,” I responded. We were still gazing. The connection expanded in my heart. It felt like a little bit of electricity or adrenaline. Interesting.
It doesn’t happen often for me. Does it for you? People don’t really talk about this. I don’t know.
As I think about it, I glimpse the faces of my friends, but social convention dictates that when you sit together, you don’t really stop to look into their eyes. Maybe I will start trying it, though I have to be careful my friends don’t think I’m romantic.
I was looking into her eyes and I started to cry, and I haven’t stopped. Because it was a gift to communicate with her again, even if for a few seconds. Because I miss her. Because I’m sorry she is deteriorating. Because she was sorry she is deteriorating, when she was still able to know it.
Then, I started to tell her all the things I’ve been thinking about for five years. My life was a blur since her diagnosis in 2012 and there hadn’t been a quiet moment, or the energy to hold these thoughts in my head, or even a plan to verbalize assorted feelings. But it felt right today.
“I miss you, Mom. I hate that you got sick. I’m sad we can’t talk anymore, or that you don’t know our lives today and your granddaughter. I’m sorry I don’t visit as much as I should. I went through a hard time, and I’m still getting over that. If you were well, I know you would have been there for me- and I really needed you. I was essentially abandoned by others I thought would be there for me, and that was hurtful,” I confessed, weeping.
I asked her if she felt comfortable, and she said yes. I reminded her that I loved her and appreciated her for being my mother.
I’m certain she was not mentally present for any of my speech. I just need to think that my words float in the ether and will make their way to her spirit.
The horrible thing about Alzheimer’s is that I keep falling into new stages of grief. I don’t know when it will come, but it’s happened enough now that the best way I can brace for it is to not be surprised when another cycle of sadness overtakes me. If there is an upside, it’s that I have every opportunity for closure because I’ve had years and years to think of what I need to say.
At this point, though, I think there is nothing more to say. It’s just my duty to be.