- by Carolyn Lackey
Perhaps it's the gray morning peeking through my window. Maybe it's the rather somber "Peaceful Guitar" Spotify playlist that is floating through the quiet of the house. Or, could it be the sadness I feel for a dear, dear friend whose elderly father passed away a couple of nights ago? He fell on a Wednesday. The next Wednesday he flew. To Heaven. Seven days.
Not so many years ago, Meems' world was bright and brimming with possibility. She lived fully alive. The Dancing Queen she was. Today her world is tiny. Mostly she is only aware of the here and now.
"I'm sitting in my wheelchair in front of a TV that is blaring with some game show."
"I need to go to the bathroom."
"I need a Kleenex."
Things that have slyly slipped from her awareness are, for the most part, time-related. "What is today?" She stopped asking about specific dates months ago with the exception of "When is Christmas?" I'm giving her credit for "December 25th." The time of day is oh, so elusive. Waking from a nap is the same as waking from a night's sleep. Both prompt the same question. "Is it time for breakfast?"
When her eyes are open, she gazes at nothing breathing slow, deep breaths. Oh, that I could peer into her thoughts. Is she daydreaming about jitterbugging between classes in a room on the third floor of a building at Stephen F. Austin that she pointed out to me long ago? Often as we sit together in the quiet of her little room, her vacant stare makes me sad. If I ask her what she's thinking about, she slowly tracks her eyes in my general direction and whispers, "Nothing."
Nothing. That nothingness breaks my heart.
Sometimes, I imagine that her gaze is directed towards a memory. I tend to look up and to the left when I'm trying to snatch an illusive thought from my disorganized brain. Meems tends to look down and to the right for something. Is that where memories of a lifetime of living are stored? Down and to the right?
I project the stories that she's told me about her college days onto that place of Down and to the Right. That is where her jitterbugging and dates with cute boys live. The whole of her motherhood slowly spins there reminding her of the dresses she made and the Thanksgiving dressing that we devoured. I'm reminded of how in the movie Star Wars, RTD2 projects the hologram "video" of Princess Leia's plea for help. "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
"Mom, no one could believe that you made this dress!! They thought I bought it at Career Girl!" says tiny, holographic, seventeen-year-old me standing in the spotlight of her gaze.
For the sake of my tender heart, I choose to believe that she is daydreaming about happy episodes of her life's journey. I guess that makes me a Daydream Believer. It does not, however, make me a Homecoming Queen.*
Meems may not have been a Homecoming Queen. But in her daydreams, she is a queen, indeed.
*Dear Reader, you will have to be "of a certain age" to understand the reference to a Homecoming Queen. It's part of a secret language that your mom and I share.