It feels so strange and surreal to write this, and yet I’m hoping it will help me feel a closeness to you that I haven’t felt in a while. We are both in this world… mostly, and yet Alzheimer’s has put a wedge between us that is unreal in its pain, intensity, and confusion. We are in this together, and still not at all. Some days I think that we should be walking down Newbury Street, making dinner together, going to the aquarium, or simply just shopping at Target again. Other days, I’d be happy to call you and complain about how the deli got my lunch order wrong.
Tiger is doing well. I still remember how he was so sick when I first adopted him, and you said, “Don’t give up on him. He didn’t ask for any of this. Don’t give up on him.” It was the kindest, most compassionate thing you could had said and your advice has always stuck with me. I haven’t given up on him… even in the darkest moments when I think I’ve given up on everyone and everything (including myself), I am still happy to keep him well cared for, content, and healthy.
Work is going well… I love my colleagues, the work I do, and the families I work with. I’m really loving Boston and my apartment and friends. I wish you could meet them. They would think you are really smart and funny–just like a lot of my friends did in high school. I’m trying to work hard and make you proud and I hope you are. Some days I remember the intensity with which you pursued your career… my first time sitting in your chemistry class. I also remember all the extra hours you so diligently put in… both before school and during the summer. It seems not long ago when I remember your old lab, the musty summer mornings helping you sort beakers and flasks, thinking about what it would be like when I would someday go to high school.
And college. When you supported me through multiple major changes, and even a potential college transfer that I selfishly forgot to mention. You had to hear it through my guidance counselor when I needed a high school transcript sent. The thing is… I didn’t want you to know that I was unhappy. I remember your go-to phrase that somehow always only made me cry more. You would say, “Oh Ann Marie, don’t be sad.”
But I am sad. And worried and frustrated–and SO fucking angry. Because the most essential person was taken from me too early. We had years ahead of smiles and tears and shopping and arguments and laughter and memories that were taken from us. And no amount of fundraising or research or prayers will fix it. This broken, irreparable feeling of sadness… nothing will ever make it better.
Who will walk me through my next break up? Or help me plan my wedding? Or tell me my hair is too long or that skirt is too short or I’m driving too fast or reading too slow or sleeping too late? Who will tell me not to be sad when I am?
I don’t have the answers. And I know you don’t either but you always seemed like you did. You fought tooth and nail for our family and I’ll be damned if I won’t do the same for you. This… none of this is how it was supposed to be. Whoever dealt us this hand… I want to throw the cards back in their face, yell and scream and kick and punch. “You got the wrong mother-daughter duo, asshole!” And we would lock arms and run away and go out for margaritas. You would tell me boys are stupid and anyone who says otherwise can “blow it out their shorts.”
Nothing will ever be enough but here is what I can promise. I will always remember and honor you. I will garden with the flowers you taught me the names of. Petunias in the sun and impatiens in the shade. I will continue to write songs for you. I will do outreach for animals in need. I will be committed to making school better for the kids I work with. I will talk about you to anyone who will listen, and a few others who won’t.
And I will try not to be sad.
Love forever and ever,