The road marked Dementia has been one we've been on for years. It's run down and covered in spiky shrubbery that implants right in that sensitive spot in the middle of one's shin. For years, we've trudged along, hand supporting hand, heart tangled in heart, waiting for that moment it dead ends into that place called Death.
We move, aimlessly, spinning in circles and disorienting ourselves until the path becomes clear all over again. We follow his lead -though he's unaware of his leadership- sometimes heavy in his wake, sometimes lightly skipping beside him.
We've spent years visiting, gently holding his hands, moving together through the halls and the gardens. We let him babble on, pretending to hold a conversation with non-words.
That is until the visit where he seemed to be stopped mid-journey, mid-path. He was stopped, he laid, and he slept. As we entered the room I heard his soft snores, they said slumber, slumber sweet soul. And I cried. I laughed and I cried and a noise unrecognizable escaped my lips.
I turned to see Jason there, to remind myself he's present. He stares at me -trying to glean what happens next. I cover my face, head bowed, as the snores remind me he's alive despite what I see. A dozen drops of salty sadness before my arms itch for purpose. I rifle through drawers trying to match up his shoes, to find that hat my mom mentioned was missing.
The snores fill the room despite all the commotion outside. I hear them and thank God he's some kind of alive. Outside, I need out, I need sun and the garden. My legs want some space that this room doesn't offer. So I touch him, I rub his sternum softly and beg him to wake. He snores.
I rub with more effort, his eyes crack and there they are the color of the sky. Lunch, I tell him, food, good and warm. A faint smile, then snores. More snores. All that movement must be exhausting, we agree. Continuous physical effort wears even the healthiest soul down.
He sleeps. And we wait suddenly large in the small room. Outside, I need out. So we go, just Jason and I, out under the sun, around the green grounds, comforted simply by the walking sounds of the other. We walk the grounds without him, sit, talk, suddenly mourn.
We try to wake him again. Two more times in fact. No luck. Some words, babbles, and then snores. He's exhausted, no surprise, and, in fact, so are we. We tell him goodbye, that we love him, that it's all going to be okay with him. I gently squeeze the thin, wiry hand.
We load in the car, realizing we've been there for over an hour. Our bodies aren't tired. But oh our dear hearts. It is then I realize grief needs stillness and space to dance upon the bits and pieces of your broken heart.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
There are no words for the way I miss you or how much of life you've taught me in my 25 (and a half) years. There is no way to tell you how far your ripples spread in this big pond.
Words cannot do it justice Popsicle. Not even mark a scratch on that immense and concrete-hard surface. Instead, I will show you all the days of my life.