When the semester ended and my duties at school were finished, I was home more often. Slowly I came out of hiding and surveyed my new surroundings: the house was a mess, the cupboards were empty, and Momma still needed me. I saw the shell of Momma sitting in the chair, but I couldn’t find Momma anywhere. She wasn’t writing at her desk; she wasn’t dressing in front of the mirror; she wasn’t reading a book; she wasn’t working in the garden… The empty woman in the chair was the embodiment of a disease; she wasn’t Momma.
The kind doctor with the melodic voice had been so sympathetic and gentle when she told us Momma has Alzheimer’s Disease. But every time I walked into the house, I heard echoes of the doctor that sounded like demons in my head. I would stand and look at Momma and then run away. I would come back and watch her some more, then run away again.
I continued to care for Momma’s physical needs, but her emotional needs were overwhelming. Momma and I had always been close, even when we disagreed or hurt one another, we were always close. For all of my life we rocked between battles and sharing intimate spaces in life. Those intimate spaces were discovered and shared through conversations…
Conversations vanished with the doctor’s sweet voice. All that was left now was the qualities in our personalities that worked like repelling in magnets. Momma and I, we couldn’t touch; we couldn’t connect. Momma needed these things, but I couldn’t provide them. I needed them, too, but Momma wasn’t there.
So I watched her until the bile in my gut soured my heart and then I would run away again.