Becoming Respite

Becoming Respite

I move in the world a changed being now

being now

today the yellow grass in the field up the hill is bowing to the rain
the sea and the land and the sky cede their colors into fog
becoming one
passing waxwings eat red berries off the vine, laugh at the cat through the window
gray waves crash into the shore, laughing too

then there’s me

powerful and helpless beyond imagination
standing in the rain drenched
crying at the beauty of it all

respite is not a thing that we are given
respite is not a thing that we are given

respite is who we are right now
bowing to this moment together
it’s who we’re becoming together right now
in just allowing our selves to be

What Grief Does

What Grief Does

This is the week
Mom can no longer recall
her own last name
our last name

This is the week
Mom can no longer answer
simple
verbal questions such as
“Do you want a blanket?”
without accompanying gestures and visuals

This is the week
Mom can no longer follow
e
ven the simplest verbal instruction
“Take your sunglasses from him.”
in any environment outside her own home

This is the week
Mom no longer remembers
the words to classic holiday music–
music she’s been singing since childhood–
one of my own deeply loved signs that she is still here…

 

Stop.

Weep.

Sit on the floor in a sunbeam.

Gather selves. Yours. Hers. Ours.

Insist on four long, deep breaths before you continue.

Re-notice.

 

 

This is the week
Mom is here with us
l
aughing at slap-stick comedy
Fraiser’s “Ham Radio” episode on Netflix
with me.

This is the week
We belted out hummed Christmas tunes and invented our own words.
We still know all the melodies, if not all the words.

This is the week
Mom and I remembered the simple joy
o
f window shopping holiday catalogs together.

This is the week
we created collective art:
c
olored pencil on paper.

This is the week
Mom played with Eva the dog
h
eld all the cats purring on her lap
beamed whenever baby Joss was mentioned
.

This is the week
Mom took my fingers in hers
warming both our hands w
hen
our fingers were cold…

 

I love what grief does:

how she widens the
spaces within
so
individual fear
can pour out

how she just keeps leaving
more room
for love

Welcome to the Void

Welcome to the Void

so welcome here
sitting in the sun at a rusty table
lunch with caregivers
in front of Useless Bay
sparrows bathe in dust at our feet
fluff and primp without shame
we admire the audacity

together we swing across Alzheimer’s
through marriage troubles
creative projects
travel
waistlines
back into Alzheimer’s seamlessly
belly laughs to tears
nuts and bolts to wild imaginings
pain, fear, and giggling back out of ourselves

someone says “I can see when she is leaving this space-time continuum”

I think “Yes! That’s it!”

our grateful multiselves
grateful we don’t have watch this process from a distance
on the Sci Fi channel
captive to the imagination of strangers

we live this. we who were
born to be space travelers
born to be many
born to weep together publicly
born to swing across space beyond time within selves

content with patchwork ships of friends and duct tape
we have all the time in the world here
I notice now
just home from a 4-hour lunch outside space time self
yet still entirely home
the void, chaos, the space between us, emptiness herself is home now

I am welcome here.
No, that’s not quite it, space travelers.

here, I am welcome

so welcome, friends

welcome to the void

I Break My Heart Each Morning

I Break My Heart Each Morning

I break my heart each morning
so there is room for her

her memory and story
her history inside of me

disease that slowly separates
her away from her

beyond disease
a slow release
of precious self to daughters

mom
we broke ourselves each morning
let our hearts be wounds
now find those hearts
a gentle gauze
wound around the world

 

Talking with Neighbors

Talking with Neighbors

I was telling my neighbor how much I appreciate the multigenerational knowledge and friendship in our new (to us) neighborhood: a rare gift—at least in my world— people holding a 6-generation understanding of a place. He said he appreciated it too and also loves that he got to be alive in the 1960s: the last decade that our country had fully functional small towns where everybody made something, fixed something, shared something, and we weren’t dependent on big distant corporations and Dairy Queen back then.

My neighbor said that at his age he’s come to value the tribe here. What our political differences happen to be, matter far less now. What any of our divisive differences are, matter far less now. You become more curious, he said: What is this tribe here about? And what am I in this tribe? When you’re my age, he said.

And my age, I thought.

I mentioned that my parents just picked a town because it’s close to us, though thousands of miles from their heritage home. Plus there are three credit unions to choose from, which makes bank-hating dad happy, and a Subway sandwich shop, which makes mom, who has Alzheimer’s disease, happy. There she still knows the menu, ingredients, and the process plus she loves their raspberry white chocolate chip cookies. It’s one of the few restaurants left on earth in which she can relax, enjoy life. The neighborhood they picked has independent living cottages + assisted living + memory care: the trifecta of awesomeness from their new perspective that and there’s a Walmart just down the hill from their new place so they can easily get inexpensive prescriptions.

Lately I’ve been dropping the need to be sad or worried or mad about mom and dad’s radically different selves and priorities now. Together we’re fine most days. Beyond fine. I’ve lately been dropping my own need to hate Subway and Walmart: not that I’m a patron of either when mom and dad aren’t around (my ego would deeply like you to know).

Frankly, I’m in awe at the glorious simplicity of their lives now.

Where: small loving family + supportive neighborhood + nearby credit union + Subway + Walmart = pure contentment and peace

And I’ve been shifting into the growing simplicity of my own life.

Where: the universe giggles while a progressive, Walmart-hating daughter openly admits Walmart’s place in her own beloved parent’s current happiness.

The world is not as simple as we would like it to be.

Then again,
it is simple here walking
talking with neighbors.

Becoming Magic With Her

Becoming Magic With Her

I love Alzheimer’s

when mom looks into my eyes
says “My baby girl. I love you.”
twinkles
hugs me close
she lifts the world to my lips
pours gratitude through me

inconsequential then
that names are dead
past is gone
old us drowned

we float happy here

no longer up to us to judge or fix others
worry needlessly
fret about what we don’t have
who we aren’t
carry world weight
harbor regret

we are free together
entirely
every moment I let us be

so I let us be

becoming magic with her