Forgive us our Trespasses

My mom isn’t dead, but she suffered a stroke and has stroke dementia, so it’s like she is here and not here.

While driving this morning I remembered how she used to always discover “coincidences” and point out to me that they were “coincidences” with quotation marks to denote how the thing actually wasn’t a coincidence, but was evidence of the connection of all things. She had a way of telling the story (without any room to get a word in edgewise) that even if we were on the phone, I could tell by how she used the word that she meant “coincidences” and not simply coincidences. I used to sometimes scorn the theoretical “coincidences,” particularly when they were for things like finding the best parking place or something equally mundane that didn’t seem tied to the greater good, but more a gift of getting what one wants. But really, who was I to judge?

The memory of this part of her came to me while listening to a book about the connections we require for a meaningful life. Yesterday I listened to a podcast discussing a similar theme. The fiction book I finished the day before that also covered this ground. Is it perhaps a “coincidence” that this connection theme is running through my life right now and then I had this memory of my mother?

I have gone through and found videos of her. She loved to set the camera up and let it run. This used to bug my sister and me to no end. Why oh why did so much of what my mother did bother me so much? I think back on it now and wonder why I even cared? She was just being herself, and smart aleck that I was I had the gall to be annoyed. What a judgmental shit I was.

In any case, while viewing these videos where I can’t see her, but I can hear her, so much is there that I don’t remember about her. I think the brain shuts off some of the minutiae of daily life of the person who isn’t there so we aren’t mired in grief at the missing of it. Instead we just get the blanket loss of the whole thing and don’t get to remember the details. This is how it is for me. The sorrow in this hangs over me, in my chest and around me always. Having her here but not here is almost worse. There isn’t any getting on, so to speak, as would occur with death.

Her situation is made worse by my stepfather’s unwillingness to take her for medical care or to do anything much at all but muddle along while he spends hours on the computer in right-wing hate chats and she sits in the living room reading dozens of books a week and sometimes staring at the television. He limits our interactions with her. My sister is a nurse and the last time she saw her she was concerned for her physical well-being, but a report to the authorities led only to even less access to her for us and no additional medical care for her so what was the point?

The sorrow cloak is exhausting. It makes me tired even when I shouldn’t be, when I have had enough sleep, when I have had exercise.

But this wasn’t the point I wanted to make here. The point is connection and how we need it and how there actually are “coincidences” in air quotes. And come to think of it, I’m probably making my daughters crazy with my finally understanding things in life and wanting to share this with them. Do they roll their eyes behind my back? If the do, I deserve it.


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