Today is my mother’s 68th birthday
She does not remember.
And she does not know.
Just over two weeks ago she suddenly started sleeping. Fourteen, sixteen, eighteen hours a day. She would sleep all night, wake up, eat one waffle, and then sleep on the couch for seven more hours.
She curls up next to my father and sleeps for hours, her head on his chest, listening to him breathe.
We both stop and watch her nowadays, pausing as we pass by the couch. We are listening for her to breathe, too.
The nurse from hospice came to the house on Thursday morning for her intake appointment.
Mom slept through the whole thing.
It is a struggle to get any food or liquid in her. She pushes us away after two or three bites of anything. And if she drinks anything thinner than Boost, she coughs.
She paces much less now. She rarely picks things up. She’s lost so much weight that her pants are hanging off her hips, and she constantly knots and ties and unties and pulls at the drawstrings, as if they are the most confusing things in the world, a puzzle that she must solve at all costs.
She is constantly off balance. She shuffles, terrified of falling.
She falls regardless, landing on her butt on the carpet seconds before my father and I reach her, having lunged for her across the room.
Then she is inconsolable, terrified.
What I want for my mother’s birthday is for her to no longer be afraid.
I do not know when my mother will die.
Alzheimer’s is just that type of asshole, and Early Onset even more so.
We exist in a floating, blurry, liquid world of grief as we tally the “Lasts” and the “Losts.”
When was the last day she remembered her grandson? That day is lost to us.
When was the last day she was able to dress herself? That day was months ago.
This will be her last birthday.
She made it to 68 for us.
And although she can’t, we will remember it for her.