Every day, I try to imagine the final months with my mother’s decline. In a way, running through this scenario protects me from drowning in daily grief. I tell myself that she hasn’t entered the finals stages of Huntington’s disease. Things will progress to a different level eventually, so I should feel grateful relief that Mom’s surrender into this disease moves so slowly.
When trying to describe Mom’s illness, I floundered for the precise metaphor until the other night. My mother is a wonderful, beautiful, unique ice sculpture. Her strength and courage, carved in cold crystalline perfection, gleams. Light reflects and refracts from her surface and shimmers with splendidly unexpected shine. The striking sculpture, though, cannot last. Hour by hour delicate and almost imperceptible changes occur. A first droplet manages to roll unnoticed down her leg. Then another trails down her throat. Before long, a small pool of my mother’s essence forms around her. She slowly shrinks in size—not just her physical body, but the spirit within her fades. Her personality retreats into the core so deeply that we have to search for her heart and soul.
We stand by helplessly as she melts.
Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman