“I want to die”, she kept saying, “Enough of this”. As a doctor, she knew there was no way out of her ailment alive. Shortly after my Mom turned 80, her mind and body started a fast spiral down. Dementia was turning the lights off in one part of her body after another, like a janitor in a concert hall after the show is over. Loss of mobility, muscle control and memory were the exact same symptoms she nursed her 2 older sisters through. Despite taking pills against it, she often felt depressed and prayed for an end. Other times she would not talk at all. Just stared. No one knew if she was cognizant or not. Not sure if it was better to be conscious and trapped in a failing body or not be conscious at all. I often hoped for the latter thinking it must be easier on her. It was heart wrenching to see my Mom, the amazing power house, who was always active, engaged and taking care of others deteriorate so rapidly. I would want to die too, I often thought. But even if it were legal and somehow doable, I wouldn’t be able to kill my own mother. No one could.
After all the tears had dried, and the pain became familiar and dull, I was able to be with her. I sat with her in silence, looking at the sea, waiting for those precious moments when she would say something…or not. I missed her smile, her calling my name, even her criticizing me. Oh, how I would love to hear even that from her. But all she said was: “I want to die”. “I know. I would want the same if I were you,” I said, “But there’s nothing any of us could do”. The helplessness was excruciating. Tired of this painful interaction, feeling sad, desperate and completely out of my depth, I did the only thing I knew eased my pain; I danced. Her eyes perked up. She smiled. I smiled and danced some more…no words needed.
#mother #daughter #relationship #autobiography #dementia #westandinlove