Between the Here and There

oceancolorsI look at you and wonder

Who you see

I watch the worry in your eyes and

Pray you see the one that you desire.

 Your mind is somewhere I can’t be

Your body’s here but you don’t care

I smooth your brow and make you smile

But truly, I’m not sure who you are.

 sunrise, Kauai, photography

Once my mom, once a wife

Once a sister, daughter, friend

Now between the here and there

Caught between what was and now is not.

 The Beach House, Kauai, photography

I want to help but you push away

Angry at me and them and the reality

Of your lack of power and lack of fun

When once you played with such abandon.

 moon photography, Kauai

Six great grandchildren share your genes

Four grandchildren visit with shuddering care

Two children smooth your brow if we dare

But you stop us with an anxious frown.

 dementia, sunset, Kauai photography

Life ends not so much with a bang

And no whimpering allowed in or around

Your circle as it weaves in and out

between the bewildering here and the almost there.

poetry, dementia, photography, clouds

 

101 thoughts on “Between the Here and There

  1. I remember that helpless melancholy, and my heart is heavy for you and all those who deal with it now with a loved one.

    “Your mind is somewhere I can’t be” … nor can we follow on this sad and solitary journey.

  2. Hi Pam, Thank you for sharing. Marcia and I were close friends and often roomed together at PEO conventions. I often think of her joy and vibrance – she loved to have fun and made life so for those around her.

    • Lil – so special to have you read my poem. YES, my mom’s spirit of fun and laughter was nonparallel. As you can imagine, her loss of memory and mobility is excruciatingly difficult for her and all of us. Many thanks for being here and remembering her. xoxo

  3. Beautiful and cathartic poem. I tried to stay in the present. When my mother was at the end of her life, I felt like I was helping birth her into her real life. I found it helpful to be aware of/open to the moments of grace that were around us. Sending you love and hugs.

    • You are a woman of great spirit and strength, Patricia. I wish my mom’s journey to (re)birth was not so difficult, but I search for the moments of grace for her, and for her family. THANK you for being here and for your insightful comment. xo

    • I have no doubt that you will be full of love and grace when the time arrives, Darlene. So many don’t want to talk or write about this part of life – the end. But it’s all part of a fascinating, difficult, challenging, incredible “life”long journey. ❤

  4. Dearest Pam,

    In December, my 94 year old mother fell and broke her left shoulder, elbow, baby finger and hip.
    She had surgery and astounded everyone with how she came through. For a month, she was steaming along in her recovery. And then, she had a set back. Pulled a muscle, pain enveloped her and once again, she has slipped back into depression.

    She is giving up.

    My sister and I see it every day. She is not eating. Can no longer raise herself out of bed.

    And we are helpless.

    Last night, I spoke with my eldest daughter who lives a thousand miles away and suggested she come and visit. I don’t know if it will be this week, a month, six months, a year, I told her. I just know, mom is giving up and, no matter how strong her heart remains, her will is seeping away.

    Thank you for your poem. I too am walking this path and am grateful for your words.

    Much love to you and your family.

    • We are walking the path together now, Louise. My mom also fell in December (25) and broke her leg, needing surgery. Amazing she came through, but anesthesia worsens dementia, so she is on the down hill trek now. To patience and understanding, to love and loss, to letting go so they can go to the ‘there’ in peace.

  5. Oh, Pam! So beautifully said, and so poignant, “between the bewildering here and the almost there.”
    I wish you strength, and your mother peace, and I hope the journey is not too painful.

  6. Pam, what a moving, loving poem as you walk with your mom through this difficult time. Your pictures were perfect – the vibrant sea full of life, the sunset as the day winds down and lastly the heavens above. I wish you patience, strength and peaceful moments and send my love to all of you.
    Anna Marie

    • Anna Marie – you totally ‘got’ what I was trying to represent with my photos interspersed with my poem. Thanks for being here. You’ve met my mom when she was at her most vibrant feistiness. You’ve gone through the path we’re taking now. I appreciate your loving support. xo

    • I cried when I wrote this poem because it came from such emotional pain and loss. But I cried most reading everyone’s response to my words. So many have experienced the same trials with parents and loved ones or are empathetic and compassionate for those who go through dementia. The virtual hugs and sincere comment make the journey easier in some ways. xoxo

  7. Oh Pam, my heart goes out to you. It must be so difficult to see your mom slip away. My mom’s mind never gave up but her body didn’t want to go on anymore. Your poem is beautiful. Take good care and hugs.

  8. I’m so glad you find respite in your writing, Pam. I could feel your sting of eyes and catch of breath in this.

    I agree with Diana and others: Love is never wasted. Just like a mother caring for her newborn baby—who knows nothing, is able to give nothing, is only able to take because she must at that stage—I trust you’ll find that well of love without expectation that will get you both through.

  9. So beautiful and I am sorry that your mother must endure the pain of memory loss and of the body failing. I can identify partially since my sis is in a care home. She is cognizant but often angry and now is somewhat better on a small dose of Ativan plus Zoloft. It is pure hell to have a loved one in a care home- at least that is my perspective. I don’t wish it on anyone. I worry all the time about my sis and go see her every day.I’ve missed about 14 days in 6 months time- not feeling up to visiting her. I then feel guilty. Your mom has, what I consider a large family. My sis only has me and my two children. All the cousins are deceased and their off spring have never known any of us. . That’s just how things are some times.

    • Losing one’s memory must be like getting hit by a train, over and over again. Yet. When loved ones are there to hug, to tell stories of fun times from the past, to ensure that despite the loss of memory, love is still there — hopefully that makes the confusion more bearable. Thank you for your comments, Ann. xo

  10. Honest and truly painful. I cannot really know, but your words give me a glimpse of how it would feel to lose a loved one while they are still in front of me. I hope those of you that love your mom are able to console each other in your shared sadness and loss.

    • The wonderful thing is that stories of my mom’s exploits over the years ARE shared by family members. Despite the great sadness at seeing our mom/grandmother fade into confusion, until recently, we could still make her smile by relating those stories and sharing photo albums. Thanks much for your reflection here, Debra.

    • It helps a lot, knowing others went through this. I hope my poem didn’t bring back painful feelings of powerlessness in helping your mom through the difficult journey of dementia. But so many go through this with their family members or friends; I hope a recognition of its struggle helps heal some wounds.

    • I know, but then again, as the expression goes, the alternative is not so great either (ie, not getting old). My mom was still playing tennis in her early 80s and working at The Gap until she was 85! At some point, in some way, the body/brain says, ‘enough.’ Don’t we wish the ending wasn’t quite so difficult….
      xo

  11. Pam, I read this when you first posted and it stayed with me, hauntingly sad, hauntingly true. I thought I’d left a comment then but saw not, my thoughts turned reflective. This is beautifully written, capturing the loss of your mother as she becomes lost herself. My heart goes out to you, Pam and to your Mom…this takes courage to post but its clarity, weaving of your life will help others suffering, cause us to pause, reflect on ourselves, what is now, how perceptions change. You can not do more than be there with her, love her, hold her…hugs to you my friend. ♥️

    • Annika – your words gave my heart and spirit a lift. THANK YOU. Yes, my poem has done its job by not only helping me reflect the difficulty of my mom’s journey, but by helping others during their own reflections, also. Sharing this (extremely difficult-to-write) poem was scary, but the reaction of those like yourself helps me realize that the sharing is part of the gift of poetry and stories. ❤

  12. The past three weeks I battled with a sense of loss. There wasn’t a way to express this too well in my own mind, until Now! You captured how I felt first seeing her frail forlorn self having pneumonia. Then, later while she was going through her rebuilding her strength, OT/PT. As my brother (artist Randy) went through my Mom’s hoards and piles of Kleenex empty boxes and full containers of baggies and cough drops. . . He had the “easy” job of tossing stuff into garbage bags while I had loads of photographs, in those envelopes with their negatives. I chose a few photo albums and asked my younger brother (Rich, teacher and professor) who doesn’t pack nor discard well, “What do you want of these?” He looked away and said quietly, “Whatever you don’t take.”
    We placed Mom in a safe, pleasant and caring memory care unit on Saturday. As I was driving towards my grandchildren’s home, I felt the weight lift up. She’s still here. As Alice said in her book, I’m- – “Still Alice.” Just her slipping away was perfectly captured in this poem. It made me cry due to its urgency and lovely, poignant tone. Thank you and God bless your Mom and all of the family will be in my thoughts and prayers, dear friend. ❤

    • You just gave ME goosebumps. Yes, many of us have to follow this sad long journey with a parent. It’s a bewildering path for all involved. Like you, I was imbued with a sense of sadness. Poetry helps me express that loss, and it helps to share with those who understand. Peace and blessings to your mom and your family. You’ve placed her in a safe space where hopefully she can dream of precious memories.

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