I am not good at something I want to be better at.
I am not good at seeing my dad in a wheelchair, in a long term facility, in a diaper in a room with silence. In that after -lunch- room everyone is either sleeping or picking their nose or moaning a terrible moan.
People once elegant and beautiful, vain and ambitious, strong and stubborn, lovely and headstrong are draped limp in chairs with all of these most cherished traits sucked out of them.
I am not good at sitting with him with a cheerful, strong voice trying to entertain him. My old tricks don’t work with him. The tricks I had for my whole life that always worked so easily- the trick where I could always make him laugh and always make him smile, is gone. The trick where he and I understood each other without speaking, is gone. The trick where I could go to him for advice on anything and he could give it, has vanished into thin air.
Sometimes quietly- because I know it is half absurd, I ask him a hard question, a big question of life, just to test, just to see if maybe the essence of him is still there. Today he could not answer my questions. But ridiculously I still am looking for answers from him.
My dad is sitting in this room most afternoons with the sun coming through the window, staring- a blank stare.
What is he thinking?
What is he feeling?
Is he lonely?
Is he sad?
Does he know we love him?
Does he know the impact he made on all of us?
I fear that there is nothing there.
I fear that there is something there but it is trapped.
Everything gets better with time – death, divorce, loss, sadness, and grief, all get better with time. Someone fading slowly from your eyes and your life does not get better with time.
You are not at zero yet.
Life begins so beautifully- with its innocence and tenderness and grace. This kind of long slow ending is very confusing. I cannot find any beauty or sense in it.
I no longer easily remember who he used to be. All of who he was is up on a far away shelf and I have to stretch really hard to the back of my mind to reach it and find it. He has been less and less of who he was for so long that I cannot remember the enormity of his personality anymore.
When I leave him now I find I am very upset. I cried the whole way home. He said he loved me today but was not able to say my name.
I am not good at it.