Two years ago, I was wading through a difficult summer of parental illness. This summer, I am doing the same. September will mark the second anniversary of my Dad’s passing. Two years is not a great temporal distance from such an event and I’m still keenly aware of the loss of his presence. Yesterday, someone mentioned a date and I burst into tears. It was the date of my father’s birthday. Such are the irrational reactions of the heart in grief.
Since May, my Mum has been in steady decline. A voice in my head keeps whispering, too soon, not ready for this. But these are things for which there are no options. Events unfurl. All we can do is react, be with, advocate for, be ready to let go. There are no predictions. No fixed date.
Anxiety is in my body. I have started waking at three a.m. in case the phone rings. In the morning, my neck is stiff with tension. I tend to eat badly or not at all. I tend not to want to do much of anything, to just wait for the news. But this serves no purpose. I try to rally my energies to useful activities, like housework and writing, but my heart isn’t in it. I force myself to do yoga and walk to release the tension. And I have promised myself that once a week I will do something relaxing, a massage, or a spa.
I visit regularly, but now she sleeps most hours, eats little, is mentally distracted. Conversation is sparse, me asking questions to which often no answers are forthcoming, or talking about my day, but she nods off after a few sentences. The phone is next to useless, causing confusion, often off the hook. My mother is unwinding, both mentally and physically. I am uncertain who she is becoming. There is little time to find out.
© Catherine Jenkins 2007