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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2157986
A mother with Alzheimer's
We've all heard the cheesy line, "It's not lost until mom can't find it", but what about how my mom can't find herself? Is she lost? Should I give up on her because she can't be found? Her Alzheimer's didn't really set in until a few years ago, but it set in hard. We went from forgetting where she put her keys, maybe forgetting my name for a minute or two straight to forgetting who she was and that she was alive. If it was possible, I'm sure she would've forgotten how to breathe. Sometimes we have good days, she can talk for a few minutes and mention the weather or her surroundings, but nothing ever sticks.

I've visited the hospice everyday for the past two years, and every nurse knew me by name at this point. My mother wasn't a difficult patient; it's hard to fight back when you forget how to speak or really move after all. The happiest moment of my life was when I walked in about five months ago and she called me by my name for the first time in over a year. I ran up to her and hugged her, crying into her shoulder and we talked for an hour about my childhood and my job before she blanked, looked around, and asked who I was before laying back down and staring at the ceiling, not responding to anything I said. The happiest hour turned into the most crushing week.

I refused to give up on her until last week. I'd been staying with her as much as I could. The doctors have been telling me that the deterioration is only getting worse. It's been speeding up and she didn't have that much longer. I refused to believe them. My mother is strong. She carried me and Valerie when our father died when we were kids. She carried me after Valerie died of cancer at 14. She put me through college, put me on the right track, and she never faltered once. My mother was stronger than this. No disease was going to claim her, she was going to go out on her own terms. I told myself this every day until last week when I showed her a picture of Valerie, and she asked who it was. No matter what, my mother loved Valerie. Even on her worst days, I would show her a picture and she would smile just a little. Nothing broke me like knowing my mother was gone. When she officially passed on yesterday, I couldn't bring myself to cry. My mother died a week ago, and her shell kept on. Nothing is lost until mom can't find it, and my mother lost herself.
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