I lost my mother at about this time last year, after her 10-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. During this past year, kind friends have checked in at holidays and birthdays, understandably assuming these first landmark occasions without my mom would be difficult. The truth is something that I was at first ashamed to admit, let alone articulate: Grieving her nonw, when the loss is complete, feels nothing like I had expected. It feels easy.
Alzheimer’s gets called the “the long goodbye” but it’s not even as decent as that. It’s a stolen goodbye, a missed goodbye, a shame goodbye, as the person you love dissolves in unseen pieces until they’re completely gone. It’s impossible to pinpint, even to the year, when your last conversation with them may have been. The ability to say goodbye to someone on her deathbed suddently seems like getting a pony for your birthday, compared with this quiet drift into the mist.
But the pony does come.