Sunday, July 06, 2014

Taking a breath

Coming up for air after over ten days of go. Party, brunch, party, recital, party, guests, party, party, party, camp. All parties and no break makes Amy a tired girl. And now, after typing it so many times, the word "party" looks pretty silly. It's weird when that happens. "Is that spelled right?" my brain asks.

In the middle of it, in between the cleaning and the laughing and the planning and preparing and welcoming, near the end, I lost my shit.

A painful conversation with my mother, who still believes in the stigma of mental illness - even mental illness tied to a global Alzheimer's epidemic - kickstarted that day. Tears all around, and apologies, and expressions of love and respect and comfort. It laid me bare. We had a very frank conversation in which she was completely lucid and reasonable. Then, within minutes, she told me the same story three times, back to back. I'm not sure which was harder: the emotionally-charged conversation about controlling whatever aspect of Alzheimer's she can, or the reminder that short-term memory is floundering. Short term becoming, as I witnessed, mere seconds.

From there, I scurried around packing up Zo for her first week-long camp. As much as I want her to experience the same fun and independence and sense of exploration (both within and without) that I did, I have pangs about letting her go. What if she needs me? Really, the more honest question is: What if I need her? I realize that it's pretty awesome that my kid is willing to go off and experience something completely new, without her parents, for a week. I love that she's got that self-confidence. This is exactly what we've been trying to instill in her since she was old enough to understand the life lessons we try to convey. I am so incredibly proud of her, and so happy that she has these opportunities. All that is what races through my mind, doing laps, over and over.

And then I remember that she's there, and I'm here, and my heart shatters into a million little pieces. I want to go tuck her in, and then give her more kisses right before I go to bed, smelling her hair and listening to her breathe. I want her hugs, scrawny arms draped around my neck. I want to hear her fake (yet remarkably good) English accent and the sea lion sounds she makes in the shower.

I realize this does not bode well for me when she goes off to college. I'm thinking M will have to strap me down and inject me with tranquilizers or something when that happens. Or maybe I can just go with her. Because that's not weird at all.

I thought that by keeping busy I'd keep this stuff at bay. Turns out that vacuuming the house and doing laundry and making dinner doesn't actually require a lot of thought, so I just had that much more time to dwell on the fact that she's away and that I don't know what she's doing every second of the day. I did, however, have a nice diversion when I tried to stuff a new comforter into a new duvet cover. (We purchased new bedding to go on our new bed due to be delivered Wednesday, and I am so excited that I managed to get it all washed and folded by today despite all the other stuff we had going on. It's the little things.) We've never had a comforter/duvet cover combo, and it turns out that it takes a fair amount of acrobatics to get everything stuffed and spread and buttoned. I'm hoping that it'll get easier with time. Maybe in the future I won't be sweating and cursing by the end of it. A girl can dream.

Tomorrow is an average work day. It may sound boring, but I'm looking forward to it after the frenetic pace of the over-scheduled last week and a half. I'll get up, go to work, work, then come home. Nothing more. Nothing less. This sounds pretty amazing to me right now.


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