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As I write this entry, I am waiting for a call. I anticipate my mother’s announcement, characterized by a soft weeping and attempt at maintaining composure.

I received a call five days ago. My answering machine embraced the somber news that Ann had suddenly taken a major turn for the worst. My grandmother, Ann Arthun- a woman staunchly committed to living fully- currently lies in a bed three thousand miles from here, mute and still. Most of her body has broken down, however her heart continues to beat with the strength and endurance. She fights the very last stages of life before death.

For the last four years, my mother has selflessly cared for her own.  Suffering from dementia, my grandmother’s condition (which slowly, painfully worsened) resulted in a woman trapped by questions. She constantly inquired: “where are we going,” “when are you coming over,” and eventually “who are you.” Over and over she would ask these questions, not permitted by her mind to retain the answers. At family gatherings she would sit quietly- unable to maintain a conversation.

Nearly every day my mother would visit her. Ann could not always remember she had visited. I finally asked my mother how she could do it. How she could continue to serve a woman who had no recollection, no comprehension of how much my mother invested, how much time she spent, how much she loved. She simply answered: “Grandma can only live in the moment. I want her moments to be good.”

Two years ago I sat in a London café, hashing over the incredible life my grandmother led. I wrote for hours of everything I believed my grandmother would say if she could tell her story to my mother. I wanted to tell my mom that though my grandmother could not explain her feelings, could no longer recount the stories she had told me over and over, that she loved her still- and would say it if she could.

I gave the final product- a simple poem- to my mother as a Christmas gift.

We both cried.

Saturday my mother called and in the most refreshed voice, told me she had experienced an incredible morning with her mom. She said she laid close- nose to nose in bed with her. And as she lay there, she remembered the piece I had written in that London café. In an almost girlish voice, my mother claimed that everything I had written was true in that moment. And in her voice, I heard peace.

About halfway through writing this, I received a call.

And she is gone, but not to us.

My mouth is dry
and so full of rocks
that I can breathe
But only breathe.
You have a relatively
limited understanding of that
which has caused my chest to rise and fall.
Once I played for you
and you in me
A rhythm all our own as we were one.
I alone witnessed your first meal.
Tiny lips and fingers searching my skin
to discern what your
grey eyes could not perceive.
I’ve loved every moment
of your life for what you are,
never once
for what you could be.
For the possibilities
are endless
and my love for you transcends
even limitless space.
Tears fall silently now
from neither self pity
nor regret,
but because I miss now
memories we will never make.
I used to run.
After men,
numerous men.
I was in love-
Countless times,
All young women are.
I once was in love
with a brilliant man.
We had a wild relationship-
Passionate- Thrilling.
He was beautiful- and better still
believed me to be as well.
His name is of no consequence
as it changed with each new face.
For him it was education.
He fell in love and married
A college graduate.
I could not give him what he asked,
but lust- love- reason
all must be understood
and considered.
I ran after the world.
My mind races
even still, tracing
the beautiful memories
of women I called friends-
cultures I experienced,
the sound of languages
I cannot speak,
those I do and
the lights admired most
from a distance.
I long to describe to you…
to warn you-
teach you-
hold you
and bear with
or for you.
But I know this
is not how life was made.
You hold me now and stroke
my brow
the way I once did you
and I am mute.
my body is broken,
and though I am still-
I do remember some.

I write you
so you will, if you are able,
understand I beat for you
Eu placea tie
mei pui

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