Choose Your Own Adventure

June 29, 2021 § Leave a comment

June 27, 2021

Today in Diane Zinna’s Sunday Grief Writing Workshop, this was our assignment: “Last week we were exploring second-person narration as a way to tell difficult stories; these books were all written in that style, making the reader the main character. This week, in addition to working with second-person, we’ll be considering the decisions we make in grief. You might remember how Choose Your Own Adventure books work–at the bottom of nearly every page, you’re given a choice that has you flipping around the book.” Make-believe page numbers, each decision moving the story along.

My writing:

It is a cold wintry day and you received a text message that he is doing better playing in the group with the rubber ball. You want to see for yourself. 

  • If you get off at the second floor to sign into the visitor book, go to page 14 
  • If you park and stay in your car with a box of tissues, go to page 1
  • If you stay home, stop reading

You know that the staff wants you to give him a haircut.  This clean-cut appearance must be an important goal and staff achievement.  You were disappointed that they had shaved off his white beard    he grew during the recent weeks in the hospital. You thought that he looked so handsome and had never seen him this way before now.

  • If you think that you should give him a haircut, go to page 23
  • If you think that his long hair is a delight to see and the staff should get  over it, go to page 22

You hear a strange noise from under your car and keep driving. It is late in the day and you’ll deal with that in the morning.    

  • If you think that you should go to the auto repair shop ASAP, go to page 30.
  • If you think that you should ignore those strange care sounds and go to see him without delay, go to page 28

The next day, you enter his room and see his arms flailing in the air as he stands on the bed. Two nurses and an attendant are trying to calm him.  Everyone is relieved to see me. 

  • If you think that I can make this better, go to page 32
  • If you think that they should just let him do whatever he wants, as long as he is standing on the floor, not the bed, go to page 31
  • If you think that some medicine should be administered to calm him, go to page 34

You look at your husband and cannot recognize his appearance. Overnight he has dramatically changed. He has never looked like this; ghostly and disoriented. He is dying. Every day that has passed since he returned from the hospital, showed signs that he was not getting better but was not suffering, until today. He holds onto your hand tightly, moaning softly, when the staff was able to maneuver him into a prone position.  Those moans were sweetly familiar, reminding you of the pleasures of intimate embrace. That was a clue that you could not interpret, it was his ending.

You call the funeral home. You watch staff put clean clothes on a body that you don’t recognize. You must decide on one last outfit, the burial clothing for the coffin. Endlessly, you wait for hours sitting still.  You are alone with his lifeless body until the hospice nurse certifies his passing.  All thought has stopped as you are overwhelmed by the gravity of the moment.

  • If you go to the second floor to sign out of the visitor log and another resident asks how he is doing, you can tell her that he has died, go to page 38
  • If you leave without signing out, go to page 37 

Your worst fears were true

June 23, 2021 § Leave a comment

My Words on Father’s Day 2021

You didn’t know that your worst fears were true,
that your children did not love you.

When you declined into dementia, they turned their backs, pivoted and
walked away. It seemed easy for them to do. You knew that your four children, now adults, often could not tell you what they were thinking or feeling instead they would lash out in inappropriate anger or frustration. It kept you at a distance and would catch you off-guard as to how to respond.

After reconciling with my Dad when I was 40 years old, you knew that my dad would hold my hand at every opportunity, softly kiss me on the lips and always call me baby. He had no words and feeling the warmth of his hand in mine, had to be enough for me. This was our connection.

You went to a therapist for many years to learn how to be a post-divorce Dad and took notes for future telephone conversations with your family. You were armed, you had words. 

You refused to engage in divorce warfare when you separated but nevertheless they were told purposeful lies by their mother hoping that they would love her more. You clung to your truth and admirably, you never stopped trying to speak to their hearts. 

You were a warm and loving Dad, always reaching out to chilly reception. Your face would light up if they called or returned your call. Always interested in what they had to say, trying to engage in open conversation, loving every description you heard of a grandchild action or event. 

Their hearts held grievances from long ago that we could not heal.

You lost cognition before you could know that the Dad strands were indeed fragile ones. You left me to bear witness as they lined up to receive their inheritance. I feel the pain and disappointment over how it turned out. I know the depth of your capacity to love, your power to change and this wasn’t your script. 

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