When I was 20 years old. It took nine years to get to her funeral.
“Pick disease is a form of dementia characterized by behavioral changes such as deterioration of social skills and changes in personality. Intellectual impairment, memory loss, and language deterioration may also occur. Most cases of Pick disease are sporadic in nature, but a genetic form of the disease is recognized.” -Web MD
Three little sentences. The proverbial front door to a whole house filled with “crazy”. Because that’s what Pick Disease looks like to all your sixth grade friends and neighbors. “Crazy” because why else would your mom be walking around the neighborhood begging for food in her nightgown. “Crazy” because there’s no socially acceptable way to explain why the kids are locked in the house with the curtains drawn day after day after day. “Crazy” whispers the court employees while you sit with your sister as they decide if you’re going to remain in the care of your parents of be shuffled off to some state run child program.
Eleven little letters that defined 27 years of my life. To this day, their weight is still enormous on my soul. You see, when your mom dies, at 45 in a nursing home, hair askew, arms twisted and contorted in a permanent froze state, wearing a diaper, with no fucking clue who you are, it breaks you in a way that is impossible to image. At 17, one of the nurses looked at me with pity and said “I don’t know how you do it.” Rage filled me. I DIDN’T HAVE A CHOICE! And how dare she imply that I did.
I don’t know why I’m telling this. I didn’t expect for this to be my blog post today. Maybe this is my ten seconds of insane courage. To lay it all out there and force my hand to clean it up and start to move on. Goodness knows my coping skills thus far haven’t been working for me. I do know that I am so ready to be free of those three sentences and eleven letters. To not worry that every forgotten task is the onset of a genetic fate. To have an “off” day and be able to just chalk it up simply due to hormones or lack of sleep. To not worry that someday I might not recognize Miss J.
I didn’t have a choice then. But I can choose when I let go of her and this freight train of fear and hostility and pain.
“I’m choosing now.”
One little sentence that will hopefully be defining the rest of my life.