Written by Sandy Patton and shared with permission
Standing in her doorway, I feel the familiar angst.
I clear my throat, swallowing hard against the flood
of tears that, on most days, threatens to escape my
eyes, now awash in sadness, exhaustion,
I’ve tried hard to brighten Mom’s small room with
meaningful memories, covering her dresser top
with special photographs, beautifully framed.
Faces, once so loved and dear, now mere strangers
wearing frozen smiles, untouched by time.
Personal musings, penned in a precise, bold
handwriting so uniquely hers, colorful binders,
brimming with stories and poems of a
well-lived life, line the shelves
of an antique mahogany bookcase.
Spirited words showcase her talent, honesty,
humor, allow her joy of life to spill forth, revealing
glimpses into a heart and exceptional soul of a
wonderfully warm, funny, compassionate lady —
my best friend, my confidant, my beloved Mom.
It’s dusk now, the room partially bathed in shadows.
Mom sits silent in her rocking chair, facing the window,
yet oblivious to the colors of sunset; the quiet broken
only by a rhythmic back and forth motion of her chair.
Small, blue-veined hands clutch cherished rosary beads.
Her silent times are hard, but the dreadful, dark days
numb me with grief. Mom cries out, yells in anger,
chokes on frustration of not being understood, looks
at me as one would a stranger, demanding to know,
“Who are you? You’re not my nurse. Get out of my room.”
I struggle with the guilt of not being able to fix this.
I berate myself because, God help me,
moments of blind rage overtake me and I pray for an
end to her misery, and selfishly, to mine. A small
part of me dies along with her every day.
Most days I doubt this deep ache will ever ease.
I watch my dear Mom, a sad ghost of
herself, appearing neither content nor troubled,
bright light gone from once-sparkling eyes,
now replaced by a haunting, vacant stare,
as she sits and rocks.
And I ask myself,
will my heart ever be whole again?