“I just want to feel numb,” I tell her.
She stops typing and looks up at me, her eyes kind with worry. “That’s a normal thing to be feeling. You’re going through a lot.”
I nod, though it is weak, and take a deep breath.
This is only the second time I’ve seen my doctor, Jan*, and I already know she gets it. She wants me to feel better. She prods about other situations in my life and acknowledges them as heavy, heavier than I’ve let on, even.
I am okay. At least, that is what I tell myself multiple times a day. I am okay. I really am.
Last night I overheard my mom whispering to my dad. “I’m scared. I’m getting worse. I feel like if I don’t do something now, I won’t get to do it at all.”
My mom is dying. I’ve told myself this multiple times a day. My mom is dying. She really is.
Why doesn’t life have a pause moment? A rewind button? Why can’t I go back, back to the days where my mom was healthy, and take a vacation with her to Greece like we always planned? We can’t do it now. She’s too tired all the time. My dad won’t let her out of her sight.
She’s cranky, too. She’s mean sometimes, even. She’s not the mom she’s always been. It’s scary watching her personality change. I don’t want to remember her the way she is now. I want to remember her full of life. I want to remember the woman on our old home videos in Germany, the ones where my brother would push me and you’d hear crying in the distance and suddenly the camera was off and back on twenty minutes later after I’d calmed down. I want to remember the woman I went to Curacao with, just the two of us. I want to remember the woman who took care of Jude the first two months I went back to work. I don’t want to remember who the hand of death is changing her into. I don’t want to remember her sickness. I want to remember her light, her life.
I have situational anxiety and depression. It took me a while to admit this. But I have it, and sometimes, the valley feels so deep and I just lay there, thinking about how heavy it all feels. I can’t breathe sometimes. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I go out with friends, and for a second, I feel myself outside the canyon, looking down at the girl who was stuck,hoping I don’t fall back in. But I always do. As soon as it’s time to go home, as soon as I’m surrounded by family again or if I’m alone, I feel lost again. I feel lonely, and not in a way that means that I am not okay being alone, because I am. But lonely in the feeling of knowing the world is falling apart and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
So I will keep saying that I’m okay, in the same breath I say my mom is dying.
Because, what else can I do?