A couple of people have e-mailed to ask, since I haven't posted about her in a while.
She's not really getting better, which sucks. She's not really getting worse, which is good. For those who don't read regularly: she's 92, she had a stroke in May, roughed up her short-term memory but physically she's doing pretty well. She gets around okay, she can go places and enjoy things, she knows who everyone is, she can have conversations... but it's not the same. Nothing sticks, and she gets confused. I call her every day, mostly because I know she likes to hear my voice, but a little bit so she doesn't forget me. If she's not reminded of things, and even if she is reminded of them, she forgets them. A lot of days the conversation is pretty much the same. Where I am, what I'm doing, some version of "when are you getting married?" and "what month is it now?" and it's like everything is new again every day. I'm in California, I'm writing, the wedding's in May, yes everything's set for it, and there's a magnet on your refrigerator that says the date, and, yes, the magnet's been there a while, and, yes, I'm feeling okay, and, yes, I'm eating okay, and, yes, I know you love me, and no, I'm in California, and, yes, I'm getting married in May, and, yes, I'm feeling okay. Some days are better than others, some days I catch her at the right moment and she remembers a lot and she makes a lot of sense and it's almost like she's still herself and we can have half a real conversation. And then some days she's confused about where she is, and how many people are living with her, and yesterday she was asking if she'd been dead and just came back to life that morning, and whether she's sick, and if she's ever going to be okay. And today she was saying the house didn't feel like her house, and how come she can't understand what's happening on the television. She gets bored when she's stuck in the house all day because of the weather, or because she isn't feeling up to doing much. When she gets out of the house, she's better. When she talks to people, it seems like she's able to will herself some more coherence, to perform a little bit, to seem like herself in a lot of ways. And then two hours later she won't remember having talked to them, or who they are. She's frustrated that she can't read post-stroke, and she doesn't remember she can't until she tries. She can write -- and she can write perfectly reasonable sentences, that make a lot of sense -- but she can't read back what she's written. That's as frustrating to her as it sounds like it would be, and it means she doesn't write very much or very often, because as soon as she realizes she can't read it back, it's confusing. She doesn't remember people she doesn't talk to much anymore. I mean, sometimes she will, but sometimes she won't. So I call her every day. And sometimes she doesn't remember that I call her every day, but sometimes she does. And when she doesn't remember, she believes me anyway when I tell her, and she thanks me for still thinking about her. And sometimes she talks about being really frustrated because she doesn't have a purpose anymore, she doesn't see the point. She can't really do all that much, and she's not getting a whole lot out of what she is able to do, and so what's the reason for even sticking around. She wants to go to my wedding, when she remembers it's happening, or when someone reminds her about it. She also wants to make sure we're not sad if something happens and she's not able to. She talks about dying a lot. It's sad. She's not sad about it. She's resigned to it. She's lived almost 93 years. And for 92 of them she was awfully independent and awfully busy. She misses having meaning and purpose and a reason to wake up in the morning. She's very aware that things have changed and that she's not who she was. She's very aware that there's not a left for her to do. It's very sad. Sometimes I put off calling her, because, in that moment, I can't bear to be sad. I'm scared for her. I'm scared because at some point something is going to happen, and I'm scared it's going to be something that makes this even worse. Because at least now she's not in pain, she has mobility, she can enjoy the moments even if she can't always remember them. But something's going to happen, and I worry that she's going to be stuck, even more pointlessly, in pain or in a hospital or in a bed for some amount of time that makes no sense and will just feel like torture to her. It's sad because it's a slow march to the inevitable, or a quick march, or, I don't know. And right now it seems she's sort of right at that point in between being herself and not being herself. Of being able to get anything out of life and being able to get nothing out of it. She has enough moments of clarity that I think, on balance, right now, she's doing okay. But it's sad. It's sad because I miss her, and I miss her most when I'm actually talking to her, or when I'm home and I see her, or when I think about her. And it's sad because I know that very consciously I'm preparing for when I'm going to end up having to miss her for real. But it's like every day is practice for that. And that's sad. And I wish my grandpa was still here to make it less sad, because all of this makes me miss him even more.
That's the update. I need a tissue. Also, now it seems I can't watch hospital shows without tearing up, which is frightening, because if there's any emotion I should be feeling when I watch Grey's Anatomy, it should be incredulity, not sadness.