June 2010


Lately I’ve been feeling like I will never be fully happy. That there will always be something missing, and I don’t know how to go through life like that. That the hole is so big that it can’t be filled, like I’m bleeding out.

I can’t snap out of it. I don’t feel like going out with anyone, I don’t want to see friends, I don’t want to talk – literally. I don’t mean talk about “it” – I literally mean talk.

But that’s clearly not a luxury any of us have. Excluding certain monks, we can’t go through life silently, so it comes down to being forced to talk, forced to converse, and usually forced to pretend everything is OK.

But it isn’t OK, and I can’t make it better – no one can. I’m not suicidal or anything – there’s no need to call the police – but it’s like an abyss that I can’t pull myself out of. It’s not that I don’t have happiness in my life. I do. I have an amazing nephew and incredible niece that I am nuts about, I have wonderful friends, and of course The Boy (I can’t think of a proper adjective).

Lately, all that’s been going through my head is “I wish it were 2006.” 2006, where no one was sick, everyone was alive, and my biggest worry was writing an annoying paper for my masters. I’d like to tell 2006-me to smell life, cause that’s where innocence and happiness is, and I won’t feel that again.

You know that sense that everything is fine? Save it in your memory, cause it’s going to be done in a years’ time, and it’s not coming back.

With 2006-me, though, there is no Boy, and there aren’t so many of the great friends that I acquired over the past few years, as The One Who Calls Me Balls Balls told me (as one of those more recent friends).

So it comes down to an either-or situation. I apparently do not get to have it all, and I’m not talking about wealth. It’s either my mom, or The Boy. It’s either my family, or my friends. It isn’t both. It won’t be both. Ever.

So I’m a broken. I’m a puzzle with a missing piece. You work so hard to put it together, only to find that there’s a piece missing, and whatever you do, the puzzle will never be complete. I just don’t know how to go through life like that, and it’s unfair to everyone else around me as well.

It’s not like I can expect people to hang around unhappiness forever – family, friends, The Boy – and sometimes I wonder when I will pass that point. When will my friends say they can’t remember what my teeth look like? When will The Boy say he can’t live with this shadow of a person? Everyone says, and I keep hoping, that it won’t come to that, but I can’t help but think everyone would be better off without me around as long as I’m like this.

A couple days ago I watched an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in which a patient, who was dying of terminal lung cancer, asked her doctors to help her die. On the one hand, I admired her husband’s acceptance of her request to die with dignity. I was even proud that he was able to set aside his own impending grief, and see that her decision was the right one for her.

On the other hand, I placed myself in his shoes, shoes I have actually worn (in one size or another), and I’m not sure I would have been as accepting. If my mom, when things were real bad already, would have expressed a desire to end her life a few months earlier, thus avoiding the months that she did not recognize us and was 100% dependent on others, would we have been able to accept it?

On this side of her death, as much as I’d like to say yes, I’m not so sure. On the one hand, the experience of your 56-year-old mother not remembering your name is a terrible one. On the other hand, it gave usĀ  a few more months of preparation.

On the one hand, seeing your mother not move in bed and only open and close her eyes (barely) is intolerable, an experience that extends far past the actual event. On the other hand, that one day that I lay my head next to her arm and she suddenly stroked my face gently (when she hadn’t actually recognized me in days) is also an experience that transcends the actual timeframe. That particular incident, by the way, is one that is, at times, my only comfort.

Knowing what I know now, having experienced the horrible demise of my once-full of life mother, I would like to say, yes. Yes, I would trade anything for the ability to have the last memories of my mother be of her awake and recognizing us and understanding what’s going on around her.On the other hand, I know that we weren’t in a state that would have accepted this wish. I doubt we would have. I think that even though we all knew there was no hope, we secretly hoped there would be.

The thing is, that amazing last time that she caressed my cheek, when I wasn’t even facing her and was absolutely startled by it, I think that I would prefer to have a full image of my mom in my head. Even now, a year and 3 months (to the day) later, I still can’t visualize my mother as she used to be. All I can see is her in that hospital bed, lying still, staring at me and having no idea I was even there. I would trade that last caress for not having that memory.