The Rocking of Earth Beneath Your Feet

I’m trying to get my head around something tonight and not having much success.

My sister Colby called me this evening.  She’s staying with my folks today and I’m due up there on Wednesday.  She called to give me a head’s up, to warn me that Mom might not know me when I get there.

“That’s okay,” I assured her.  “I’ve had that happen before.  She’s never said it outright, but I can tell by her expression that she sometimes doesn’t know who I am.”

“Well, I never had it happen to me,” she replied.  “Tonight I’m her sister Jean,” (our Aunt Jean, who died more than 20 years ago), “and you don’t exist.”

Gut punch.

Colby didn’t mean for her news to hit me like that.  She only wanted me to be prepared.  I’m grateful, and yet…

You know, at first I thought it didn’t bother me; that it wasn’t much different from Mom not recognizing me.  I was wrong.  There’s a huge difference between not being recognized and not existing at all in the mind of a loved one.

With lack of recognition, there’s the chance I can joggle her memory a bit, remind her of who I am.  It’s happened before. But if who I am has been erased from her mind entirely, if the fact of my existence is a cipher, as if I were never born…

I feel a little like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” except there’s no angelic Clarence to ring his bell and grant my wish to live again.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's, Connecticut, death, Dementia, dying, Essays, Melissa Crandall, Writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Rocking of Earth Beneath Your Feet

  1. Becky says:

    You are all in my thoughts to the folks when you see them, and as always, love to you.

  2. MJ Allaire says:

    Love you my friend. Hang in there… and when you’re ready for hugs, let me know. You will be in my thoughts on Wednesday.

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