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Posts Tagged ‘Forgetfulness’

This is the first post in a series, about a woman named Amara. It started as an idea for a short story, and it grew as I grew to love this fictional character. There are 20 parts on my site (linked at the bottom of each segment). This summer I have been re-posting from my first year of blogging, so as to avail my writing time to working on the completion of this story, hopefully in book form. I’d love to know what you think.
CW

As Amara sat behind the steering wheel of her car she got increasingly frustrated.

She looked around her empty front passenger seat for clues as to why she might have driven to this professional building, in the middle of her small town. She could not remember why she drove there, all that she could remember was steering her Oldsmobile into this parking lot. It was as if in turning her wheels towards the lot, her purpose for being there had disappeared completely from her memory.

She tried to look around, hoping to see if something around her might twig her memory as to why she had driven there. Nothing sparked her memory.

Maybe if she retraced her steps, but all she could remember was the moment her front tires turned into this parking lot. ‘Oh, what is happening to me? I cannot even remember any other part of my day, and here it is already eleven in the morning!’ The last thing that Amara could remember was climbing into her bed the night before.

That memory was vivid. The striped bedsheets had felt cool on her skin, as she had climbed into her side of the bed. Her side of the bed … after almost ten years of living without him, she still had her own side of the bed. She started every night there, and she would awaken in the morning, never having passed the invisible center line of the mattress. Once, having given herself a talking to, she purposefully lay in the very middle of the bed … and awoke the next morning where she always awoke, on her side of the bed.

As she pondered thoughts of him Amara’s anxious heart ached for his presence, for his companionship, for his wisdom and laughter in frustrating circumstances like this one. He had a way of seeing a lighter side to the tough stuff of life, and he had a way of lightening any anxiety that she was feeling.

But, he was not here with her, and Amara sat feeling more and more frightened. She wanted to let the tears that were filling her eyes fall down her cheeks, but that would be ludicrous for a woman of seventy-two crying like a baby where anyone could see her.

There must be a sensible reason for this odd bout of forgetfulness …

Unfading – Part 2

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This is another the final post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story. Today is the final segment that will be added to this series on my blog. This summer I will be editing and adding to this story, in preparation for publication (hopefully) by the end of summer. When it is completed, and ready for purchase, I will provide information on my blog. I have enjoyed getting to know Amara, Joy and their family, thanks for walking this journey through their story!

Joy watched Joe and Jilly walk slowly down the corridor of the hospital, then disappear as they turned the corner to the elevator.

She let out an audible sigh.

“It sounds like you have more on your mind than just your mother.”

Joy turned quickly to face Dr. Lewis, who had such a gentle, grandfatherly face. Joy was certain that he was most sincere in his concern about what was occupying her thoughts.

“Oh, Dr. Lewis, it has been a stressful time, and so much has happened in just the past week.” Joy said, trying to be both honest, and not fully transparent at the same time.

Dr. Lewis nodded knowingly, but only knowing of the stresses of her mother’s events in that time. He reached into his pocket,  pulled out a prescription pad, and scratched something onto it.

“If you need anything,” he paused, ensuring that Joy was fully engaged in his eye contact with her, ” I mean anything,” he sounded so lovingly firm, yet concerned. “You call this number, and I will return your call before you can hang up your phone. The healer is only helpful if she has a place to go for strength,” and he placed the paper in Joy’s hand, and held it for a moment. Then he smiled, and walked towards the elevator.

Joy watched him for a long time, thinking how she had not been cared for by a father figure for a long time. She missed her father deeply in that moment, and as the doctor turned the corner towards the elevator, tears flooded from her eyes. She could feel the weight that on her shoulders, causing them to sag.

I must keep moving, Joy told herself. She took a deep breath in, and held it for a moment before forcing it out again, ever so slowly.

Then she turned towards her mother’s room, and walked determinedly towards it, where she stopped, took another breath, and slowly, ever so slowly pushed the door so that she could peek in.

Jessica was still curled up on the bed beside her mother, both with their eyes closed. Joy took in the picture before her as she had with the breaths of air … whole, fully, and not wanting to let the image go, in fear that she might never get it back again. It was a beautiful, peaceful image before her. One that put her at ease, at rest, simply by being a voyeur to the intimate moment so close to her, and yet she was so removed from it.

As beautiful at the image was, as peaceful at it was to look upon, Joy felt such regret that it was not she who her mother desired to be close to. As she deeply felt that regret, she also knew that she had been pushing her mother away from her for most of her life. Maybe, at some level, Joy had been punishing her mother for the choice she had to make all those years ago, to give her time and attention to her dying son. Now, as an adult and a mother, she considered what she might have done? What other choice did her mother have, but to leave her healthy daughter’s care to her own parents, so that she might be able to care for her desperately ill son?

Joy so wanted to walk over and embrace her mother, but she could not face the possible rejection that could very well be the response from her mother.

She stared longingly at the pair on the bed, when Amara’s eyes opened, and looked to Jessica.

“Oh my sweet little one, you look so lovely when you sleep,” Amara said, to Jessica, as she continued to embrace the child’s head with her hand. “You fill my heart with love. You make me smile. You are the answer to my prayers.”

Joy could feel tears welling up in her eyes.

Jessica moved in her sleep, closer to Amara, who was smiling with great satisfaction the closer Jessica got to her.

“Oh my sweet, sweet little girl. You bring me such … ” and Amara stopped speaking for just a moment, just long enough to kiss the top of her head. “That is why I called you, Joy.”

The tears that had been welling in Joy’s eyes were now loosed by the realization that her mother did not think that she was holding her granddaughter … but her daughter.

Unfading – Part 1

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

When Joe and Jilly got home from the hospital, Joe realized, for the first time since getting into the car, that he had been so pre-occupied in his own thoughts, he had forgotten that Jilly was with him. As he looked to the passenger seat, he smiled, as Jilly was sleeping peacefully.

How she had grown, from the little girl he often still thought of her as. She reminded Joe of his own mother, with her long eyelashes, chestnut hair, and petite nose. He missed his mother, and wished the Jilly could have known the woman who she resembled most.

Joe unlocked and opened the door from the garage to the house. He then, carefully, opened the passenger door, and lifted Jilly into his arms. He carried her to her room, when he lay her on her bed, and covered her with a quilt. He looked again at his firstborn and noticed how, her sleeping state reminded him of the many times he had carried her from a vehicle in the garage when she was little. The memories caused a smile to spread across his face, as he realized how fortunate a man he was, how blessed a man he was.

He walked from her room with a goal in mind, and now was the time to get going on it.

Joe walked into the small office in their home, and sat in the large, comfortable chair, as he reached in his pocket for his cell phone.

He clicked on the text button, and read, again, the text that Roxanne had sent, the text that Joy had read, the text that may have changed his life forever.

“Call me, I NEED to talk with you about a ‘business trip’ I am proposing. You owe me big time for leaving just when we were so close 😉 . Roxanne” Joe read it over again, and again, and again. Then he realized that this text, and that Roxanne herself, were not responsible for changing his life, his choices over the past months were where the responsibility lay. He chose poorly, and he had to accept that responsibility if he would ever be able to look Joy in the face again, if he were ever to even hope that she might accept his repentance.

When he located Roxanne’s number, identified as R. Baker, he looked at the time, but then realized that it was now or never.

As Joe heard the ringing of Roxanne’s phone, he realized he had not rehearsed anything to say, and started to panic, as he pondered hanging up. Just as he was about to lose his nerve, a familiar voice answered, “well now, I was beginning to think that you were never going to speak to me again.” Joe could almost see her cheeky smile as she spoke, but it did not have the same euphoric affect on him this time.

“Roxanne, I need to talk with you,” Joe was plunging in with both feet, and he wasn’t going to back down.

“Oh Joe, of course you need to talk with me, after all, we are partners … well, we were almost partners,” Roxanne said, with a giggle that insinuated the path that they had been following.

“Roxanne, it is very important that I get this all out, before I lose my nerve,” Joe took a deep breath, then proceeded.

“I need to apologize to you. I have been so wrong in pursuing this relationship with you. My marriage vows to my wife should have meant more to me than my actions have showed. I never should have kissed you …” Joe stopped and realized that there was more “… I never should have even thought of it. I want you to know that I was the one who blew it, not my wife. She could not have pushed me away if I had not been so easily swayed. Roxanne, I plan to put every effort into my marriage. I will die trying to prove that I have learned my lesson, and that I am fully and completely committed to my wife and our marriage together.”

Joe was done, everything that needed to be said, he had said, except … “good bye Roxanne. Please forgive me for bringing you into this sin of my own doing,” and with that, he hung up the phone. He looked out the window onto the front garden. It seemed as though he had never seen it in such detail before this moment. He had a goal, and it was one that he was going to do everything in his power to achieve.

He was going to win back the heart of the woman that he had hurt, deceived and broken.

Now, if only she would allow herself to open her heart up to him again? Then Joe pondered to himself, if I knew this whole story, and I was not the offending me, would I advise her to give me a second chance?

Joe sighed a deep sign, realizing that this was going to be far more difficult than he might imagine.

Unfading – Part 1

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

“Jessica!”

Joy, Joe and Jilly were all calling out her name, when a nurse came over and asked them what was going on. She was kind, but it was obvious that yelling out their daughter and sister’s name in a hospital was not an acceptable thing to do.

“Our daughter is missing, and she is only five years old,” Joe said with a voice absent of any confidence.

“Do you have a photo of her that I can share with the others on this unit, and then maybe we can help you to locate her?” She asked, with great sympathy for the fear that was written over all of their faces.

“I have one in my wallet,” Joe quickly responded while searching for the photo. When he pulled it out, there were three other photos that came tumbling out of his wallet at the same time. The one of Jessica, that he had been seeking in the beginning, followed by one of Jilly, one of Joy and one of their whole family taken last Christmas.

Joy frowned as she picked them off the hospital floor. She had no idea that Joe might have pictures of them on his phone, let alone physical photos in his wallet.

She looked at the the photo of herself, one she had given Joe when they were first married “to look at when he had to be away on business, and they spoke on the phone. So that it was just like they were together when they were apart,” was what Joy had said. Then the one from this past Christmas … everyone smiling, but the unhappiness evident to Joy, as she looked at the perfect, but posed smiles of she and Joe. Jilly had changed so much already, in just a few short months, as adolescents was transforming her from the inside out. And Jilly, that beautiful, innocent smile, so full of joy. Oh, where was Jilly?

The nurse took the photo, photocopied it, and shared it with the nurses and any other hospital employees, including Dr. Lewis, who had still been on the unit, and a search ensued. Joy wandered the halls of the unit, aimlessly.

“I found her,” Jilly’s excited voice echoed down the halls of the hospital unit.

Everyone who heard her voice came running to where she was standing. Through the window of the door of room 201 was a most serene and touching scene. Little Jessica, snuggled up on the bed beside her grandmother. Amara’s arms were wrapped tightly around her, while she petted the top of Jessica’s head.

As Joy slowly opened the door, her heart almost stopped, as she heard a familiar tune being sung by her mother:

“Longing for you all the while, More and more;
Longing for the sunny smile, I adore;
Birds are singing far and near, Roses blooming ev’rywhere
You, alone, my heart can cheer; You, just you.
Let me call you “Sweetheart,” I’m in love with you.
Let me hear you whisper that you love me too.
Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true.
Let me call you “Sweetheart,” I’m in love with you.”

Joy was instantly transformed to another time and place. She was back in that special place in the clearing in the woods. Her mother and father, she and Jacob, relaxing and enjoying special family time, after their picnic lunch. Her father standing up, and extending his hand to her mother, who blushed. She took his hand, and he led her in a dance on that grassy, sunlit space, that became the dance floor of a beautiful ballroom. Joy could almost hear her father humming the song, as he plead her mother with his eyes to sing the words … and she did. Then he held her even more closely, as the two of them slipped into a place that was intimately theirs.

Jacob and Joy did not even respond as children often do, with groans and gagging, as their parents showed loving affection for each other in front of them. Even they, at their young ages, were swept up in the moment of beauty, of love, and of a magic that children rarely get a glimpse of anymore.

Amara’s voice was beautiful, solid, and confident. She had a voice like Kate Smith, that sounded like every part of her being was singing along with her voice.

Joy remembered her trip to Disney World, with her grandparents, and how every princess seemed to sound like her mother’s soothing, beautiful voice.

That song that Amara was singing to little Jessica, was the one that Joy had heard all through her childhood. Hearing it now took her back to not only that day in the clearing in the woods, but also to times Joy had forgotten about. Times when Joy was held on her mother’s lap, as a very young girl, and her mother would sing to her. She sang it when Joy was sad, she sang it when Joy was happy. She sang it when Jacob was dying. She sang it when Joy’s grandfather died … but, she never sang it when Joy’s grandmother, her mother’s mother, died. As a matter of fact, Joy could not remember her mother ever singing that song again … until now, in her hospital bed, with her youngest granddaughter in her arms.

Joy felt Joe’s hand on her shoulder, and the magic was gone.

Joy needed to get freed from Joe’s touch. It felt like sandpaper on her soul.

She turned around to see Dr. Lewis standing just off to the side, from where the group of people were watching little Jessica curled up with her grandmother.

“Dr. Lewis, why is my mother not upset about my daughter’s presence? She screamed when her other granddaughter entered the room, and she screamed when I was there, as though she did not know us. Why is she not bothered by Jessica’s presence?”

Joy hoped that what she was feeling was not evident in her question. That feeling was envy. She was ashamed to be feeling envious of her own daughter, but, after-all, she was Amara’s own daughter! Why did she not remember Joy, but she remembered Jessica?

“I really do not know the answer to that,” Dr. Lewis replied. “It could be that she is have a moment where her memory of the present time is clear again. It could be that she is reliving the past with your daughter, seeing her as someone else. Alzheimers is not a predictable disease. The amazing thing is that she is singing clearly, the garbled speech is not at all present right now, and that might be a good indicator in relation to her recent stroke.”

Oh, a bright light! Joy thought to herself. She had not even realized this change when she first heard her mother’s voice. Maybe her mother would recover, and go back home after-all.

“I think that it might be best if we do not disturb them, “said Dr. Lewis. “Joy, if you could stay close. Maybe you could quietly move into the room, just in case your mother’s memory slips, and she scares your daughter.”

“Of course,” Joy said, glad to have something that she could do.

“Is there any danger for Jessica being there?” Joe said, shaking Joy.

“I do not believe so,” the doctor said confidently. “The concern is more for how your mother’s response might scare your daughter. She is really too weak, physically, to hurt your daughter.”

Joy breathed a sigh of relief, and looked at Jilly, noticing how young she looked for a change. Adolescence seemed to have meant the every day she looked older, taller, more like a woman. But right now, the fear in her eyes made her seem more a child than a young woman.

“Jilly, how about you and your father go home, or do something fun together? I will call you as soon as something changes.” Joy could see that Jilly was looking so sad, so lost.

Jilly motioned her mother aside to speak to her privately. “Momma, why does Nanna remember Jessica, but she screamed when she saw me?” Jilly’s tear-filled eyes spilled down her cheeks.

Joy quickly wrapped her arms around her child of adult body, but child-like heart and mind. “Oh sweetie, I know how you feel. Nanna screamed at me too.” Joy’s own tear-filled eyes spilled over as well. “I don’t understand this any better than you do. All I know is that it hurts so much.”

As they stood there, sobbing in each others arms, Joe came over to them. He placed his arms around them both.

Joy quickly moved away from his touch, and placed a hand on each cheek of Jilly’s face, “you go home with your father, and I promise, I will call you as soon as I know something.”

Jilly nodded, wordlessly, and took a deep breath.

Joe was very aware that Joy was not talking to him, that she was not wanting his touch, his words … his presence. He knew that what she had read on his phone had created a flood of imagination in her mind of what might have gone on. He knew that he had killed a part of her, and that with it, a part of ‘them’ had died as well.

And he knew, then and there, that what he had not done did not make him innocent, because he knew, as Joy knew, that in his heart, he had replaced her with another. He knew, what he had not realized in the months of ‘innocent’ conversations, that he was guilty of emotional unfaithfulness, and that may have drive the final nail on the coffin of Joy’s ability to love him ever again.

Unfading – Part 1

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

When Dr. Lewis left Joy, she started feeling the weight of all that was going on in her life.

Her mother would appear to have just had a stroke, on top of Alzheimers Disease. Her husband would appear to be having an affair with a business colleague.

“I just cannot do this. I do not know where to turn. I have no hope,” Joy said under her breath.

“Momma! Momma! I missed you. Did you miss me?” Jessica’s joyful voice echoed in the hospital hallway. Everything within Joy was so out of energy to give, that she really had nothing left to offer her little girl. She felt lower than she ever remembered feeling. She had no vision of the future, and could not imagine things getting worse. She was hopeless.

Then, as Jessica’s arms wrapped tightly around her mother’s neck, a feeling of deja vu surrounded Joy. All of a sudden, Joy was in the place of her mother, so many years ago, when she had to deal with the deaths of both of her parents and her son. Joy, for the first time, understood why her mother had not … could not return her little daughter’s embrace. All of a sudden, Joy, for the first time in her life, understood that her mother had not rejected her, but that she had nothing to give her little girl, because she was hopeless.

Joy knew that she had to respond differently to her daughter than her own mother had responded to her. She knew that it would be an act of extraordinary strength, coming from a place within her, that even she did not know existed. Joy forced her arms around her daughter, and held on for dear life. As she held Jessica, and Jessica held her, Jessica’s head lifted, so that she was staring into the closed eyed face of her mother.

“Momma, why are you crying? Are you sad, Momma?”

Joy opened her eyes to see the most beautiful, innocent, loving eyes. As she looked into Jessica’s eyes, she saw the eyes of her mother staring back at her. “Oh Jessica, I just feel so loved by you,” she finally was able to say.

“I have the best Momma in the big, wide wold,” Jessica said, with the pronunciation of a New Englander, as she held on to her mother, even tighter.

“Is it okay for Jilly to go into Amara’s room?” Joe’s voice cut deep into Joy’s heart. Just moments before she was in the midst of the sweetest momma moment with Jessica, but with the sound of Joe’s voice, Joy was reminded of the hurt associated with Joe and the text message she had read on his phone.

“Go with her. Mom may not recognize her” was all Joy could say to Joe.

Joe seemed oblivious to the heartache that Joy was feeling. That was exactly Joy’s intent. The last thing she wanted was to allow tension and stress to take over in front of their daughters.

As they walked to Amara’s room, Joy prayed that her mother would at least recognize Jilly. All of a sudden screaming and yelling, followed by Jilly running out of the room to her mother. Her wide-eyed appearance told Joy that indeed her mother did not recognize her first granddaughter.

“Mom, what is wrong with her? Why did she not know me? What did I do wrong?” Jilly was trembling with fright.

Joy reached out for her daughter, and embraced her, as Jessica moved to allow her big sister to be comforted by their mother.

“Please do not take it personally, Jilly. She has moved into a new stage of Alzheimers and she is confused. I promise that the Nanna you know is still in there somewhere, and she knows and loves you.” They held on to each other, as Joy tried to help Jilly relax, and return to calm.

“Oh Joy, did you get to speak to a doctor this morning? What is going on with your mother?” Joe’s concern was heard as acid to Joy’s ears.

“Jilly, are you okay for me to tell you what the doctor said earlier? Or would you rather not hear until we get home?” Joy asked Jilly in a manner that indicated that she was speaking to her as an adult.

Jilly nodded.

“Dr. Lewis, who was so kind, spoke to me this morning … ” Joy sighed, “after my mother yelled and screamed at me the same way she did at you Jilly. She did not recognize me …”

“Mom, Nanna didn’t know you either?” Jilly asked in wide-eyed amazement.

“No, she didn’t, Jilly, and she was even more terrified by my being in her room.”

“Is that the Alzheimers then?” Joe asked, concerned. His concern was grating on Joy’s nerves. She just wished there was a way that she could tell him to leave … for good.

“Dr. Lewis said that she has had a stroke. They are unsure of the severity of it, but it has affected her speech. The not knowing us is probably related to the Alzheimers, which is unpredictable as to how it will affect her from day to day, and person to person.” Joy was relating all of this information as she held perfect eye contact with Jilly. She was determined to not lose her daughters during this time of struggle.

“The biggest battle is that she also has pneumonia …” Joy began to fade, as her ears, her mind, her heart was re-hearing the doctor’s words.

“That is treatable, right?” Joe’s voice was really causing a rise in blood pressure for Joy. It took a significant amount of self-talk for Joy to not scream at him.

“The doctor said that mother may never go home again,” and then the tears fell like a river down her face, as Jilly held her mother. Joe knelt down on the floor in front of Joy, and wrapped her arms around she and Jilly. Joy’s body tensed immediately. She reached into her pocket, pulled out Joe’s cell phone, and handed it to him, with the text opened for him to read …

“call me, I NEED to talk with you about a ‘business trip’ I am proposing. You owe me big time for leaving just when we were so close 😉 .” Roxanne

As Joe read then bowed his head, Jilly shouted out, “where is Jessica?”

Unfading – Part 1

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

Mother and daughter lay on the hospital bed, Joy weeping, while Amara whispered soft encouragements while holding protectively to Joy’s head.

Amara could remember vividly the last time that she and Joy were in each others arms. It was a time when Joy needed her mother so very much, and Amara had nothing left to give. Amara had carried the guilt of that failure with her all these years. It made her so aware that one moment of weakness on her part could change the course of her relationship with her daughter.

As Amara held her daughter an odd realization occurred to her, that she was not holding her young daughter, but an adult woman. This adult woman was laying on her bed, right beside her, and in her arms.

Amara screamed loudly, piercingly, but wordlessly, as her sounds slurred together.

The woman bolted upright in seconds, “Mom, mom, are you in pain? What is wrong?”

Amara screamed again, and again, and again, until someone looking like a medical personal came running in.

“Mrs. Jackson, step aside please,” the nurse said to Joy.

Joy stepped aside as the nurse asked her mother a handful of questions. Every answer was a mumbled mess of sounds. It became apparent to Joy that the recent news that her mother had had a stroke was probably true. It was painful to stand there and hear her mother unable to communicate clearly.

The nurse was able to get Amara settled down, and more relaxed, after having Joy wait outside the room. Joy was pacing, without knowing it, in the hallway, when the doctor, that the nurse had called in, came out of Amara’s room.

“Doctor, how is she? Did she have a stroke? Why was she so upset with my being there? Will she be able to speak again? Can she walk?” The questions in Joy’s head were pouring out all at once.

The doctor, a man in his late fifties, with kind eyes and a relaxed demeanor, waited patiently until Joy’s list of questions had all been aired. Then he said, “Mrs. Jackson, lets sit and chat.”

Once they sat, he spoke, “Mrs. Jackson, I am Dr. Lewis, I work in the same office as Dr. Faw. It does appear that your mother has had a stroke. I am not yet sure of the severity of it, or how long lasting her speech problem will be. We will be doing more testing today. There is more … are you okay to take all of this in with no one else here with you?” Dr. Lewis asked with sincere concern for Joy.

Joy wanted to respond what was on heart, that she had no one, no one, in her life to lean on anymore. Just thinking it caused a tear to slip down her face. She took a deep, lung cleansing breath, wiped the dampness from her cheek, then looked Dr. Lewis in the face and said, with forced confidence, “you can tell me.”

“Mrs. Jackson, your mother would also seem to have pneumonia, probably from her unplanned hiking expedition the other night. This will be her biggest battle,” he looked straight at Joy, “Mrs. Jackson, your mother may not be going home again.”

The words settled on Joy’s ears, but were felt throughout her entire being. In just a short period of time, her mother had gone from a strong and independent woman, in great shape for seventy-two, to a woman who would not be leaving the hospital. Joy’s head began to swirl with the weight of the doctor’s words.

She felt a hand on her shoulder, “Mrs. Jackson, you can ask me anything. There is no rush. This is a lot of information to take in all at once.”

“Dr. Lewis,” Joy was forcing herself to stay alert, “why did my mother respond as though she did not want me in her room?” Really that was the only question Joy had on her heart. The feelings of rejection were greater than any she had ever known … or maybe it was reminiscent of her childhood time when her mother could no longer be available to her?

“The Alzheimers would be the reason for that, would be my best guess. Perhaps, when she awoke, she was not able to recognize you, as her daughter, and it scared her. That would not be uncommon in someone with that disease. To be honest, it is nearly impossible to understand exactly all that one with Alzheimers thinks, so that is just my best guess.” Dr. Lewis smiled an understanding smile.

“What …” Joy’s voice trailed off, feeling heavy with the weight that today had laid upon her shoulders. “What do we do next?” Joy was asking, not just Dr. Lewis, and not just about her mother. Joy was asking herself, and about almost every part of her life.

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 17

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This is another post in a series, about a woman named Amara. Every Friday I will post another segment in this story.

As Amara stirred, Joy rushed to her side.

“Joy … ,” Amara was struggling to talk.

“Yes mother?” Joy felt tears coming to her eyes. Was it her mother’s voice, or what she had just read on Joe’s phone?

“Joy … ”

“Mother, I am here”

“Don’t cry Joy, please … don’t cry.”

Joy was startled by her mothers words, because she had not realized that her face was wet with falling tears. Amara’s eyes were not even open, how did she know that Joy was crying?

“Mother, I am here. Oh mom, I need you right now,” Joy sobbed, and lay onto her mother’s bed with her.

Amara reached her hand towards Joy’s head, and held on to the crown of her head, like she used to do when Joy was a young child, and needed comfort.

It was not a familiar thing for Amara to be offering comfort to Joy. Oh, when she was a little girl, and had all the scrapes and bruises of childhood. But as a teen and an adult, Joy did not need comfort from anyone.

Amara could remember vividly the last time that she and Joy were in each others arms. It was a time when Joy needed her mother so very much, and Amara had nothing left to give. Amara had carried the guilt of that failure with her all these years. It made her so aware that one moment of weakness on her part could change the course of her relationship with her daughter.

Jacob had been ill for so long. If Amara wasn’t with Jacob, it was only because the hospital staff had sent her home to sleep in her own bed for a night. It had been a two year existence of doctor appointments, prescriptions, hospitals and tests. It had been almost two years of her husband, John, working two jobs to pay for all of the medical bills. It had been over a year of Joy living more with her grandparents than with her parents.

Amara had missed Joy so much, but there just was no other choice, and she was so thankful for her parents for giving Joy all that she needed, during those years when Amara’s attention was almost exclusively devoted to Jacob.

In the beginning, when Jacob was first undergoing tests, Amara had to deal with so much guilt. She had been so excited when Joy arrived, that she really only had eyes for her. Jacob had gotten pushed to the side, in Amara’s delight over her new baby girl. But Jacob did not seem to mind. He was just starting grade one when Joy was born, and he had new adventures in his days, that did not include his mother anyway.

Jacob had been such a pleasant, easy going little boy, and his pride in his baby sister was almost as intense as his mother’s. He would sit by her bassinet and just watch her sleep, or sing to her as she bounced in her Jolly Jumper. He was as enamored with her as Amara.

Then he got sick, very sick. And the doctor’s didn’t know what was wrong. By the time they diagnosed nine year old Jacob, with Leukemia it had gone too far. Oh, they tried everything they could think of, from treatments, to surgeries, to medications. It was just all too late.

There had been so much loss, in such a short time. Only a month after Jacob’s funeral, Amara’s father, the strongest man she could imagine, had a major heart attack, and died as well. Amara was not sure she could keep going. She felt pulled between the grief of her son’s illness and death, the shocking loss of her father, and the need to help her mother, as she dealt with her own grief.

Amara was barely surviving, and her care of little Joy became mechanical, impersonal. Joy was not quite five, and she too had experienced immense loss. She lost her big brother, her grandfather who had doted on her as though she was royalty, and now her Gamma, who she loved like a mother, was in such a deep place of grieving. In the midst of all of that loss, was the reality that she had also lost her mother in the process.

Then, only a few months later Amara’s mother died too. The doctors had said it was a massive stroke that took her life, immediately, but Amara knew that it was a lonely and broken heart, that simply refused to keep beating with the love of her life gone.

Amara was at her weakest, most vulnerable point in her life. She survived, physically, but life was snuffed out of her soul.

In just a few months Joy went from being in the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ (Disneyworld), with her dear grandparents, to living in a dark, cave-like place and existence, with a mother who was unable to care for herself, let alone a five year old girl. She became the caregiver of her mother. The roles of mother and daughter flipped, and little Joy lost her understanding of childhood, as she began to mother her mother.

There was little that Amara remembered about that time in her life. One event stood out, as a great regret. Amara was sitting in the front row of the church, as the funeral service for her mother progressed. It had been an open casket funeral, as had been common at that time. When the time came for the casket to be closed, Joy jumped up onto her mother’s lap, threw her arms around her mother’s neck, and sobbed onto her mother’s shoulder. Joy had not sought out affection from her mother for months, while Jacob was ill, and she had the doting affections of her grandparents. But when the cover came down on the body of her grandmother, it was as though Joy was aware that the door on that phase of her young life was also closing.

As Joy sobbed and held on to her mother’s neck, Amara could not muster any affection for her daughter. She found breathing to be a laborious event, in itself. Amara had nothing left to give to her child.

Eventually Joy was pried from her mother, by her father’s eager arms. He held her, and comforted her.

And Joy never sought comfort from her mother again.

Amara always wished she could have found the strength to say, “don’t cry Joy, please … don’t cry.”

Unfading – Part 1

Unfading – Part 16

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