Imagine a gray world in which vivid colors do not exist and all feelings temper within narrow limits. Love does not offset hate, because neither exists. In real life, grief contrasts elation, but neither extreme exists in this gray world. In my imaginary place, limits of emotions constrict into a blended sameness of dull conformity and feelings compress into a limited range of emotions with little room for comparison.
Someone I love suffered a massive stroke a week ago. All memory is gone…family names, my name, cherished moments in the past, personality quirks, even painful recollections…all vanished in a cerebral “blue screen of death.” For her, confusion replaced vibrancy. Her world morphed from rich fullness into the unnerving isolation of being a stranger in a confusing place. Rich history that once defined her life now exists only in scattered glimpses by a fragmented mind. In an unusual act of tenderness, Mother Nature blessed her with little cognitive function, protecting her from frightening realities.
I find myself selfishly obsessing over my own loss. Oh, what I would give for one more moment of recognition from her, a simple calling of my name and a brief, “I love you.” Alas, those words from her exist only in my own thoughts and in cherished memories of all who love her. Her mind has entered a gray world that protects her from anxiety and fear. For that, I am grateful. For that, I am also resentful. I want her back in her full glory, knowing that can never be.
As a writer, I see events differently than some people do. I don’t just live my life. I study life. Even now, as I live in the final time of a loved one, I find happiness in small blessings, albeit, some deeply veiled in the distracting fog of reality. For example, when I kissed her goodbye, perhaps for the last time, she told me she’ll miss me.
Odd, I thought to myself. She can’t even remember my name, but her last words to me are she will miss me. I wonder if she really understands . . . then again, I don’t care. It’s enough that she just said it.
Therein lays the blessing. While she does not comprehend her own fragile state, some deep core personality fragment still exists, enough to know she should miss me, but not enough to inflict emotional distress for her. For that natural protection, I am thankful. I do not want her to suffer.
I realize this is a writing blog, and I apologize. I should not use it to whine about my personal loss, but, I thought sharing the realities and lessons I’ve experienced with my loved one’s stroke, might illustrate wonderful depth for character building. The human experience in fiction should be as vivid to readers as my mother is to me. But, in writing, “less is sometimes more,” as exemplified by her simple, yet powerful, last comment to me . . . “I’ll miss you.”