Visit to Dementia Patient in Room 251

My mother’s sharp-edged words hang in the air of her room in the nursing home where she has spent the last two months of her life, words I have never heard her say before, words I have to believe she didn’t mean because to believe she did might dissolve the place in my heart where my love for her resides.

I wonder what it’s like inside her mind—fear, anger, and frustration replacing the kindness she has always had for others.  I try to affirm my love, but there is no acceptance from her and I flee the room, tears coming in spite of my resolve to remain strong for her.

I see her fading from me far too quickly now with a power I can’t diminish, a panic rising in me at the inevitable progression, a loss before the final loss when one would be unbearable enough.

Tomorrow will come and her words will fade and I will hold her and tell her I love her and she will tell me again that she is sorry, that she does love me, and she will cry, and I will fight back my own tears because I have to be strong when she is weak, a role reversal of mother to child.

And while I know such things are all a part of the progression of life’s stages, still I cling to the way she used to be like she does within the chaos of her mind, and I hope for peace to come to us both before her independence and her dignity are gone forever.


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