All this week I’ve been feeling anxious. Seriously so, for no discernible reason. I ran through the usual suspects; Mom’s affairs, preparations for teaching, blog posting schedule, life administration, the well-being of my children. Although there’s stuff, there’s always stuff, nothing warranted the deep cold dread I felt.
Then yesterday, having crossed two particularly time-consequential tasks off my list, I knew.
My mother’s Alzheimer’s has me rehearsing the future day after day after day. I worry so much about forgetting that I treat my obligations like beads on a string and run them through my mind’s equivalent of fingers, over and over again. Black beads, I think, volcanic stone. Porous and sharp.
If I can’t at a moment’s notice remember all the 13 tasks I must complete, and when they’re due, and even which ordering will optimize the process, I feel dull fear in my belly. As though the beads have begun to crumble in my hand.
This is not terribly festive.
I suppose anyone who’s got an ailing parent might feel the same. We love and fear our genes. But we also know that humans are happiest living in the present. A life in the future, especially one in which one might forget to buy all the necessary Christmas presents, or burn the holiday choucroute (as my mother did early in her disease), not recommended.
Just figuring out my anxiety’s source helped, some. But in fact I am faced with a scary question I can’t answer. No one knows if Mom does actually have Alzheimer’s, it’s a diagnosis that can’t be confirmed in life. No one knows for sure what genes are or are not responsible. No one knows how to prevent the disease, or mitigate its effects. So, like so many things in life that we don’t foresee when young and no one explains, you just deal.
You just deal. You refocus on the glories of the day. I mean, there’s really nothing else to do. It may be pablum but that’s better than starving.
You applaud the Fedex man when he shows up with packages, be glad for spattering raindrops on slate and glass, drink tea but not too much. Too much adds to anxiety. Music’s good, especially “pop-oriented” flamenco. Some things we know.
And you wish your friends a wonderful weekend with great affection. Happy winter everyone.