You may have noticed I don’t write a lot about my mom. It’s not because I have nothing to say. It is probably more because I have a lot to say, but feel uncomfortable saying it. It makes me sad to talk about my Mom, the person she is today and to remember my Mom of yesterday. Maybe I partially fear your judgement of the things I feel. No. That isn’t entirely accurate. I suppose I fear my own judgement on how I feel. I feel such saddness and anger when I think about what has happened to her. Then, I feel guilty about any negative feelings. So, I guess that causes me to worry that because I judge myself so harshly when it comes to these feelings, perhaps you will too.
Growing up, my Mom was my best friend. When other teenage girls were rolling their eyes at their Moms and fighting with them endlessly, I was going to movies with mine and shopping with her. She made me laugh more than anyone could. My friends adored her. There were times I wondered if they called the house to talk to me or to talk to her. (Sometimes, they’d admit, there were times that they just wanted to talk to her.) If you ever met my Mom, you loved her. It is as simple as that. To know her truly was to love her. There was just something about her that drew people in and made them feel at ease with her.
Mom and I talked openly about everything. She was relaxed over issues that other moms maybe weren’t. (Sidenote on this. I was an A student. And an occasional B popped in there now and again, but school was never a problem for me. So, on those occasions I wanted to take a break, I took it. When the end of school rolled around my senior year, there were some papers to be signed about graduation and such. When she went to sign them, I freaked. “No! Mom you can’t sign that!” She of course replied, “Why in the world can’t I?” So, I told her “Because I have been writing my own notes for years. If you sign it, they will think it is a forgery!” Did she freak? No. But I still haven’t heard the end of it. See. She knew I had school under control and it was past anyway.)
In the late 80’s (shortly after I became engaged), Mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was a blow to her and to the whole family. How could we not know that this was in her body fighting her everyday? How could someone so full of life have a chronic disease? It wasn’t something we could wrap our minds around. I think that on some levels we accepted most of the physical limitations that would occur with MS. (Or at least, I tell myself that I would be fine with that.) But, you see, Mom is in one of the minority percentages of people suffering from MS (5-10%) whose cognitive functions are severly impaired. Basically, she is not the woman she used to be. She cannot function mentally like she once did. It is as if her entire personality was wiped out and in it’s place came an angry, confused child. (I am not being mean here. I struggled to find the right words to describe it. That is the best I can do. So much for being a writer.) The Mom I grew up with is gone. The woman who is here is someone that I am struggling to know and love like I should. And it breaks my heart. Daily. I cry when I try to talk to her about real issues and all I get back is an empty stare. For that matter, it breaks my heart when I try to talk to her about anything and her only response is either confusion or bitterness towards MS. Yes, some of it is depression, but most of it is the way MS has damaged her brain. My “Mommy” that I was best friends with is there to an extent, but I haven’t seen her in years.
Ever since I had children, I have longed to be close to have a “mother-figure” and be able to turn to her to share the trials of motherhood with. I wasted too much time with my mother-in-law and now she is gone. I never imagined in a million years I would be so alone in motherhood. I find myself longing for older women in my life. Someone that I can cry to when I need a mom. I find myself reaching out to women who are older than me in subtle ways, yet the longing to fill that void is overwhelming.
I suppose it just really hits me hard when I am at home with her. I sat with her yesterday and was talking about how freaked out I am about my current situation and how scared I was. I talked about the fact that we weren’t moving and how hard the kids were taking it. I cried with worry over the things my boys have said about how they feel. I wanted to badly to be the little girl and have her tell me it would be okay. I wanted to put my head in her lap and have her stroke my hair like when I was a little girl and to feel that it would truly be okay. However, after I finished talking and was trying to dry my tears, she looked me in the eye and said, “So when are you moving down here?” It was as if she heard nothing. Like she couldn’t understand what I was saying. Somehow, she just couldn’t comprehend and process it.
And my heart broke.