Saturday, August 9, 2008

Notebooked (again)

Chris is out of town tonight and after tucking Coop into bed (three times), I decided Mommy needed some chick flick time.

A few weeks ago I’d Tivo’ed The Notebook (one of my absolute favorites, despite its personal aftermath) so I thought tonight would be the perfect time to finally watch it.

It’s weird the way things work. August. The Notebook. And me. Not necessarily what I’d call a winning combination.

Let me explain …

Just three days shy of two years ago, I posted an entry on the DallasChild blog (I was an editor for the magazine at the time). I wrote it late at night, with tears streaming down my face … just as I’m doing now.

In the entry I explained that I had just watched The Notebook and it brought to the forefront the painful reality of Alzheimer’s, which my grandmother is battling. I cried for the last 30 minutes of the movie, and continued to do so.

The same again tonight.

On August 11, 2006 I resolved to start writing a letter to my Grandmother once a week. I knew then (as I know now) that she wouldn’t know who the letter was from (a fact that smothers my every breath if I allow myself to truly consider what this means). But I knew she had always loved getting mail when I was younger and I thought it was the one tiny thing I could do to try to remain forever her granddaughter.

It’s now been 104 weeks since I launched my letter-writing campaign. I have not succeeded in sending a letter every week; I allowed life to get in the way sometimes. But I’ve never let more than two pass.

I’ve been having nightmares about my grandma lately. I dream that I’m with her at a park when she suddenly runs away from me. I chase after her, but no matter how fast I run I can’t reach her. It’s as if I’m stuck in slow motion. I can see on her face that she’s terrified and confused. She seems so small, so frail. I yell out her name, but she can’t hear me.

I’ve had the dream twice in the last couple of weeks and I always wake startled, sweaty, my chest pounding.

Leaving boot camp yesterday I was overcome with a sense of dread and I feared something was wrong with Grandma. I immediately called my mom. She called me later, after talking to my grandpa, and she said things were fine.

But I can’t shake my sudden, intense longing for her. I miss her terribly. But I know the person I’m aching for is no longer where I can reach her. And never again will I be able to.

I haven’t seen her since just after Cooper was born. I took him down to meet her and my grandpa when he was just a few weeks old. She took to him immediately, as I knew she would, she has always had a soft spot for babies. My sister and her brand new bundle Montana just made the same trip.

I was sitting at lunch today when a friend, Hillary, started talking about her daughter Ally. She said her grandma, Va, would’ve loved her little girl. The comment shot straight to my heart. I would’ve loved to see my Grandma with Coop, the Grandma from my memories. She would’ve loved him and all of his crazy ways. But he would’ve dug into her towel drawer and emptied the contents all over her floor, then he woulda’ been in for it. =) Everything always had its place.

I want to see my grandma, but I’m terrified. And that’s a feeling I don’t know how to handle. My sister is a nurse at an Alzheimer’s clinic; it’s her way of dealing. She is so much stronger and braver than I. I couldn’t do it. I can’t. And I hate myself for that. I tell myself, “Someday. I’ll go see her someday.” Until then … I’ll write.


mimipam said...

pure, heart-searing poetry.

hi said...

Tessa~I cannot begin to imagine what this has and is doing to you. It absolutely breaks my heart to hear it. I visited my meme and papa the past few days and it is hard enough to see them age and move so much slower...but what I hold on to are those memories that you mentioned. Those are mine and can never be taken away...just know that some day she will be whole again, her precious mind too. You will be reunited with her and she WILL know sweet Cooper. That's the beauty of a relationship with the Lord...we will be together-whole-one day. Until then, cling to your memories and keep writing girl. Your writing is healing for more than just you. Be blessed.


courtney said...

Oh, you poor thing. Alzheimer's is just so terrible. I haven't known anyone with it, but I can't imagine how hard it must be loving someone with it. I wish you and your grandma peace.