Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you felt as if you had been stabbed with tenterhooks, and stretched so thin that at any moment, you were certain your soul would tear open, spilling all your sorrow, anxiety, and worry out into the world? Convinced that if that happens, this internal toxicity might contaminate all that is good around you. Taint any happiness you have ever had, leaving you in a void of bleak darkness that you can’t successfully navigate to reach the light that seems ever farther from your grasp.
There are moments when this plagues me. Moments when I watch my mother, her mind slipping into a black hole where her memories are slowly siphoned until they are unrecognizable, and realize that one day, I will be the memory she no longer recognizes. I will be a stranger in her world.
No one knows if of course. No one is the wiser.
Because I put on a façade of strength and conviction. A well-crafted disguise to fool those around me. A costume of bravery and courage like Zena the Warrior Princess.
But I’ll be honest here; my mother’s illness, her disease, scares the shit out of me. I know what lies ahead. As a high school student, I worked the night shift in a nursing home and was assigned to the Alzheimer’s unit. I know the secrets of this disease. I’m aware of its cruelty. Cruelty to it’s victim and the victim’s family.
What I’m most afraid of is that I won’t have the strength to bear this burden. Carry it upon my slender frame. For her. For my family. For myself. I doubt my capability to hold all of us together by the tiniest thread of sanity. To be that voice of solidarity that we all will need in the coming years. To be that reassurance which will be critical in surviving the bleak future that waits for us all because that’s all that Alzheimer’s brings.
This disease delivers pain, suffering, and agony of the mental variety. It touches all those it meets. In so many ways. And the worst part – it’s already upon us. I see it in my children’s faces. I see it in my mother’s confusion. I feel it inside of me, twisting it’s knife so that I bleed sorrow.
And I’m afraid.