This poem is written by a woman named Joan to her mother who was dying of Alzheimer's.
Anyone who lost a loved one to Alzheimer's or any other type of dementia will identify with the sentiments.
Tentatively titled "Empty"
A year has gone
an eternity past
our lives as we once knew them
In your face I see the confusion,
in your eyes all that we once were,
all that we once shared
is gone…. emptied.
At times I feel you groping in your darkness,
searching for the light of connection…
a faint glimmer, a brief second of recognition
then as the impulse courses through the
circuitry of your awareness it shorts
then dies as I desperately try to hold it near.
If you had died
I could somehow place all these emotions
inside a prayer, raise my eyes to the heavens
and remain connected to you, to your energy, soul, you're being.
But you're not dead, not gone, just emptied, a shell
hardened, isolated, disconnected from everyone
you once showered so selflessly with your love.
I am left withrering, convulsing, cut off from my lifeline… but to you
it's all meaningless
even the tears that
fall down my face
This beautiful poem captures the anguish and the helplessness as she tries to grasp what is no longer there.
As my own father approached death, I watched parts of him slip away. As he aged I watched his skin color to gray, his hearing became weaker as did his vision. It was sad to watch him die, but his mind was clear and I felt like I was growing closer to him in the final stages.
My mother, on the other hand, had hydrocephalus and as the pressure on her brain increased, she became more confused. As Joan described, the confusion caused my mother to slip away as she no longer understood much of what was happening around her. It was almost as though she was slowly taking leave of her family, her life. And while this was happening, I felt something beyond sadness, almost an urgency to grasp her before she slipped further away. I recall how sometimes I had the impulse to scream out for her to come back almost like a child who believed his mother was in there somewhere. And with every visit, there was less of her there.
As we watch our loved ones to slip away with such indignity, most wish for the end to come more quickly. Most feel guilty about that. Most have to steal themselves to visit their loved ones. Most feel guilty about that. Most feel relief after the death and feel guilty about that also, complicating the mourning process.
Saying goodbye is never easy. But watching someone we love slowly lose their mind, is its own anguish.
Joan will be joining us Tuesday to discuss the poem, the emotions she went through then and how she is doing now since her mother has passed away. And I hope to hear your stories.