I'm really missing you tonight. It's almost 2 in the morning, your time. Your time. Time doesn't mean much for you anymore. When I come to see you, I could've been away for 5 minutes or 25 years. It doesn't register for you. But you always look at me with your big blue eyes and say "Where you been?"
I still have a very hard time believing that you're in a nursing home. I go over that phrase in my head. Over and over it. "Nursing home." It becomes a non-phrase. A cartoony image of a house with teats hanging off all 4 sides, and all the patients in their wheelchairs are leaning forward, nursing on them to stay alive. These are the little rodeos my mind sets into motion when I try to just hold reality in my hand like a warm rock. Suddenly the rock becomes too warm, hot, scalding, and I throw it hard and run for cover, waiting for the retaliation.
Late last night, as I was bleary-eyed from reading yet another book on Alzheimers, I suddenly wondered: If you were still you, and I had a baffling disease that had wrapped around me like tentacles from an unseen giant of the sea, would you be reading books about it? Would you be turning page after page in books written by those who had watched the tentacles squeeze the life out of their daughters?
Would you sit by my bed and stroke my hair and say the words I say to you? "You can relax and go to sleep. You're right where you're supposed to be. You're safe. And we all love you."
I think you would. I hope you would.
I miss you so much. I miss your silly sense of humor. I miss the way you'd walk up and put your arms around Mom as she washed dishes. I miss seeing you in your denim overalls, getting off your tractor and coming inside the house for the noon meal.
I miss the way you'd stand in front of the bathroom mirror, combing your hair before going out with Mom in the evening, and you'd laugh and say "I'm a good lookin' bastard, aren't I?"
I miss the very basics. I miss seeing you walk.
I think about what it would be like to have you back in your real mind. And how miraculous. Even for one hour. If you suddenly "woke up" and looked at us and said "What was all THAT about?" We would stand like figurines, frozen in shock at the old you landing back inside yourself. Mom would put both hands on her face and then both hands on your face. "Are you really here?" she'd say. "Are you home again?"
And I wouldn't want to, but I would leave the room, and take everyone out with me, except for you and Mom. I would close the door softly, and let you live your whole lives over again in the next 59 minutes.