It’s a different sort of death. There’s no sudden jarring–the reality that life is forever changed and that she will no longer be sitting in her chair working on her “puzzles” or watching Jeopardy, or Matlock, or Murder She Wrote. There is no cathartic service filled with music chosen by the family. No terrible funeral flowers. There is nothing to mark the day or the moment that life suddenly changed. It is a different sort of death. It eats away at you daily as you watch and worry and wonder. It takes years, and you can’t really remember when it all changed because it’s all been changing for a long time. And there is no date on the calendar where memories stop–at least the memories you want to remember. Like when she tried to teach you how to knit, and your fingers turned stiff and inept. Or when on the way to go fishing at the river, she’d count the semi-trailers–marveling at how, over the course of a few months, there were so many more trucks on the road than before. Or the time when, on one of those fishing trips, you set the hook so hard the fish flew out of the water and hit her in the face, and we laughed. Oh how we laughed. And we laughed about it for years. And thinking about it all makes you feel like a little girl–helpless to do anything. There is no gravestone to visit. Just a face that doesn’t recall any part of your childhood, a mind that does strange things. And you can’t make any sense out of it because there is no sense in it. It’s all just gritty sand running through your fingers. So you wonder, how can I make any more memories? And you think, I don’t want these memories. Memories of this slow withering. So we tell her we love her, remind her we love her, always…remind her we love her. Over and over and over again. Love Never Fails.


For some background, read: Chalk Dust

2 thoughts on “The Withering

  1. I so identify with this. I remember the day when Mama asked me where I was going to college – 20+ years after I’d graduated – and who my daddy was and if he was alive and who my mama was (she was disbelieving when I pointed to her). This was the beginning of the end (her death was eight months later from congestive heart failure on August 14, 2012) of life as we knew it.

    I miss her, but I miss the good years she had, not the end years, when Lewy Body dementia, vascular dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as the worsening congestive heart failure took most the incredibly intelligent, incredibly funny, and incredibly spunky mama I knew away from me.


    1. Thank you for the comment; I’m glad that this post touched someone “out there.” We often feel quite alone in our experiences, so it’s always reassuring when you find a connection. And yes, I think we have to keep those good memories.


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