My heart….breaking open

In “Still Writing”, my favorite author Dani Shapiro writes “I can’t tell you when my mother and I began the fight that lasted the whole of our lives together but I know the moment it ended.”

These words tell my story as well.

My mother has Alzheimer’s Disease. 
The words are chilling, they carry the heavy weight of midnight terrors, visions of a future filled with emptiness, the fact of someone being slowly erased moment by moment.

Dani also writes “Life doesn’t follow narrative arcs that stretch from one predictable scene to the next — does it?” My arc does not follow logic — one year ago, the now daily scenes of my life were unimaginable, and yet today, they seem so normal to me.

Each day, I am learning what it is to be in the moment, because that is all there is. Each day, each hour, each moment is new.. What a lesson in mindfulness.

So this is a journey that my mother and I have agreed to travel. Everywhere I look, I see we are not alone. I meet the other “children” in the lobby of my mother’s facility, say hello to the sweet husband who comes everyday to be with his wife of 60 years. I sit in family meetings with professionals willing to sort through tangles of emotions that seem endless, and am greeting by caretakers that astonish me with their desire to be of service.

And yet, the journey seems so intimate, so private.

Observing my current behavior from outside of my heart, I have the same questions my family has asked — I join them in wondering who am I now, why has that huge focus of anger and resentment that centered my life for decades disappeared, now feeling so lifeless, so distant?

How could this change that I so longed for have finally arrived, but at such a high price?

And then, I am reminded of the the truth of life not following a predictable path -

I know there is no reasonable answer as to why now I am visiting the person daily with whom I did not speak for years at a time.

No reasonable answer as to the emergence of this reservoir filled with the unlimited patience required to be answering the same question hundreds of times, listening to the same story again and again.

No reasonable answer as to the way my heart breaks when watching this person who has been my mother for 68 years slowly disappearing.

The only answer that can be is that my heart has broken open.

So I am going to share this journey. Maybe I will find my way

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