An Absent Mind

Holy smoke – this surely cannot count as morning pages, it’s gone 8pm! I blame the day we had, for morning pages completely slipping my mind…

Had a rather heavy evening last night with the wine, and set the alarm this morning. All Blacks were playing Wallabies, and of course this is the northern hemisphere, meaning kick-off was at 8.30am this morning. Said and done, rolled out of bed with a hangover, showered and headed over to the Black Lion pub in Hammersmith, where we enjoyed a couple of Bloody Marys and a steak and cheese pie. I felt quite ill afterwards, it has to be said. Headed home and had sex, a sandwich and then a snooze as we both felt rough. 

Woke at 3.30pm and wondered what’s next. ‘Next’ turned out to be a trip to the Swedish food shop in Marylebone, where we got a load of crayfish. August is crayfish party season in my native Sweden, so we decided we need to have one too. Tomorrow, in fact. We have the crayfish, we have the silly hats, we have Västerbotten cheese and we have crispbread – all set!

Really – now I’m just writing for the sake of it, wanting these 20 minutes to go so I can continue drinking wine and giggling with B, but what had me ending up here in the first place was the urge to write and it was only once I had the urge that I realised I’d forgotten about today’s morning pages. 

What got me the urge was to write about Dementia, or actually Mimmi. 

Apart from witnessing a near and dear one fall prey to this vicious illness, I know nothing about it. Let’s consult Wikipedia for a brief summary:

Dementia is a broad category of brain diseases that cause long term loss of the ability to think and reason clearly that is severe enough to affect a person’s daily functioning.

Very clinical and matter of fact. What these cold-light-of-day words mean to me is that a person who once was the centre of my universe no longer recognises me and all she managed to express when I saw her last a few weeks ago, was how she just wants to die. 

Mimmi has suffered depression on and off since the 40s. And has munched various medications ever since. She slipped into full on psychosis following the birth of her first child and was hospitalised for months, and has negotiated the rough waters of depression ever since – sometimes above the water line, but very often underneath. I never saw her at her worst until her husband passed away, but she bounced back, and the Mimmi I saw now was all but a shell of the person she once was. 

Confused, despairing, not there. 

“I’m done with this life. I don’t know if I can kill myself, won’t anyone help me?

Now, how do you respond to those words when they are spilling out of someone you love so much? The tears that had already got me in their grip as I waited for her to open the door, outsite of which I’ve stood so many times over the years, kept flowing. I didn’t want her to see me so upset, but I’m sure she registered how the sleeves of my top got increasingly soaked with salty tears and mascara. 

We had some lovely times, didn’t we?” Mimmi said and looked at me with eyes that held none of the spark they used to.

Yes, and we still do,” I tried and squeezed her hand, knowing neither of us believed it.

I could tell she had me relegated to the past, that these ‘good times’ were no more. 

How the fuck do you deal with this? How could I tell Mimmi that the world would be a worse place without her? She was – is – convinced she’s done, has no business in this world anymore. 

The photos of me that used to adorn her home – in fact, the moment you walked in, you’d see my two-yearold grin on the dresser – are all gone. The ones she hasn’t taken down, she has covered. The big one in the bedroom has a calendar hanging over it, the smaller has a photo of her son stuck to the photo frame so it covers my face.

I’ll never be able to describe the pain I felt during that last moment with Mimmi. Had B not been there waiting for me in the car outside, I would have completely crumbled. Well, I did crumble, but it would have been so much worse.  

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