“You’re staying overnight, right?” my mom asks.
I shake my head no, for the fifth time. I just got here an hour ago, and that’s all she can talk about.
My mom wants nothing more than to go to bed with me in her apartment and wake up to find me there.
“I wish you could come live with me,” she says. “But that will never be.”
She’s so lonely. Everyone in her life, everyone she can remember, is gone — her brothers and sisters, her mother. I’m her steadfast connection to family, the person she’s closest to. My presence comforts her because it tells her she’s not completely alone. But I’m never there enough, and not for long enough. She spends so much of our time together lamenting the fact that I will leave. Soon. Always too soon.
“You never stay overnight,” she says.
I try to change the subject.
I know it’s hard for her to fight the loneliness, to keep it at bay. She’s good at making new friends, but bad at remembering that she’s made them. Once her roommate has gone to bed, she feels all alone in the world.
“There are so many people who like you,” I say, trying to buoy her up.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she says. “I don’t know anyone here.”
I’m worn out with her loneliness. It’s making us both sad.
Thankfully, her stuffed animals and dolls give her some comfort. Kathy and I bought her a doll that she fell in love with, but she was so afraid someone would steal the doll that she hid her. Then she couldn’t find her, which made her think someone really had stolen her. She was bereft, sadder than if she’d never been given the doll in the first place. Then the doll reappeared in the kitchen cabinet, hidden behind cereal boxes.
Sometimes I feel like my mom is like that doll, disappearing with no warning, leaving me feeling bereft. But then like the doll, she reappears — or at least some semblance of her does. Sometimes I think it would be better if, on one of her best days, she would just die, so I could remember her as fully aware, as fully engaged, as possible. I don’t want to watch her lose touch with everyone around her, and with herself. I don’t want to watch her get more lonely.
___________I’m raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association, a great organization that has helped my mom and me tremendously. I’m participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. My mom and I would really appreciate any support you want to give. Please visit our page.