The strangest thing about the death of my mother is the vanishing. That a person can be on this earth one minute and gone the next, seems like a cruel magic trick that I’m still trying to figure out. As I reflect on her disappearance, I realize the slight of hand happened years ago and the vanishing was just the grand finale.
Dementia is a terminal brain disease.
I knew this but I didn’t know it. Terminal is just a word I used to add weight and truth to mom’s disease because you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know this. So I said it to help raise awareness and educate, and to help me say out loud in a euphemistic way — my mother is dying.
I thought I was prepared, even ready for my mother’s death. But it was the concept of her death I was ready for, not the real thing. In the beginning, “has dementia, will die” was loud and clear in my subconscious, then towards the end my concept was that death would be a kindness that couldn’t come soon enough.
But vanishing from the face of the earth?
It may have helped if I had replaced the word die with vanish and had been saying things like “my mother is vanishing from dementia,” or “my mother is receiving hospice care and could vanish in three to six months.”
A friend warned me about this. She said “you may think you’re ready, but when your mom dies it will feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.” I believed her, but “hit by a truck” was another abstract concept. Another friend said the death of a parent is a “ground-shifting sadness.” This rings true as I try to find my footing on this new and shaky ground.
My mother vanished last month.
I’m sad, but I’ll be okay — I’m just a little surprised at the size of the truck.