Sometimes being in a corner feels like you’re trapped in a locked box. Sometimes the road buckles on the way to nowhere and the signs to return home are obscured by curves behind which you can’t identify the landmarks. Sometimes the darkness is so dense that sunlight doesn’t lift the pitch enough for you to see. I’ve been there for the past twelve months or so, maybe even two or three years, getting deeper and deeper into a funk. I can’t write because I’m too tired and overwhelmed by responsibilities over which I have little control and less chance of escaping. The life of another person depends upon me but my own life also demands attention, and there’s only so much of me to spread, to give, to take care of it all.
I haven’t had time to write. Or maybe I haven’t taken time to write, certainly not the amount of time I need to direct to my books. Writing means so much to me, and I still think and dream writing. I scribble my brilliant ideas on scraps of trash paper, and my genius insights snare my attention from the daily tasks at hand. But dawn comes before the sun rises, and dusk finds me anxious and headachy most days. Sleep is illusive and not long enough, and healthy exercise is something other people accomplish.
On the surface this must look like depression but I know it’s not. It’s Life 101 catching me at my heels, surrounding me with the reality check that it isn’t going to end soon, and when it does, it will only be because someone I love has passed. The fanged wolf waits at my door; I don’t know when he’ll lunge. He will though, I know he will.
Someone I love has Alzheimer’s disease. She needs everything an infant needs, except that she continues to regress and to subsume me. Because she cannot speak on her own behalf or assist with her care, the disease having destroyed every essential facet of her executive function. I must act for her, choose for her. I do not fear death, hers or mine, though I fear a vacant life, a lingering death.
I wonder how she can live with no ability to remember anything she once loved, to plan an activity, to anticipate the next day’s events or even the next hour’s. I fear how long this fractured existence might continue because she is old and I am aging. I’m weary. I’m frightened by what I witness of this illness as it destroys so many others with a long, slow crumbling of the brain and body that can only be described as a harrowing existence. Someplace between dark and blank. Barely what we recognize as human – yet they are, and she is.
Alzheimer’s disease demands a waiting room. We wait and we know what we’re waiting for. Regular life is suspended between the what-nows and the emergencies and the bills that still must get paid. The clock stops in the interim between the earlier life where things moved along with occasional crises and temporary high points, and the ordinary moments that filled most days.
Now it’s a steady decline to an end mark I will know by its certainty but still don’t know anything about at all. The interruptions happen, always when I’m unprepared because that’s the job description of interruption: a trip to the hospital, a UTI, a violent outburst, a more precipitous mental decline than the day before. The unexpected events that inhabit well-planned days now doused in chaos and fear.
Yet the hours progress and the calendar page changes. When can I start to live again, to plan around my needs and desires? To write my books and engage in their publication process?
So the New Year’s Resolution I wrote six months ago, End, Begin, Again, the commitment to write as best I could, seems a lazy attempt at humor. It was a snapshot of my giddiness at facing another year with less accomplished than the previous year, and so much that I might do in this new one. I want to write, all excuses aside. I want to paint, to travel, to take classes and learn about some of the many subjects that interest me.
I want more time with my family – my husband and sons, my daughters-in-law, and my beautiful grandchildren, especially the youngest of this special brood as they live 350 miles north of us. We see them rarely, they can’t grasp who we are.
I want to write for my blog and work on my books, then embark on the tough road of submitting queries to agents, and probably of prepping my books for self-publication. Because as I worry and wonder when I can squeeze in a few paragraphs, I hear the clock’s persistent tick and know I must get ready for the next day. It will come and I must be prepared, especially for the unplanned. There is not enough time to write.
Except. It’s time for me to get serious about what I can do, to focus on what I must do. Stated here: Begin again. I will write, no longer wait for endings to grace me the time to get on with my life. I’ll continue as I have for eight years to be at my mother’s side with love to assure her she isn’t alone, making choices to keep her comfortable, being vigilant to keep her safe. It’s what I do and will do loyally to the end but it can’t be the excuse for inaction.
Perhaps to dream I will write.
Watch me write.
I am writing.
Clock and book image courtesy Google images, Pixabay
Man in a boat image courtesy Google images, Pixabay
Sunrise image courtesy Google images, Pixabay