Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Caregiver's guide to Alzheimer's

A caregiver’s guide to Alzheimer’s

When the stranger first arrives
you will go deaf and blind
rather than accept
this twin that follows
close as a double exposure blurring
the edges of your loved one’s
life.  She may even ask you 
if there is someone behind 
her. But like a two year old
playing hide and seek you will
cover your eyes and say no, believing
that if you refuse to see it, it will not
find you.  Forgive

for soon enough the shadow will gain substance
and lumber after your loved one
like a sloppy drunk that will not leave 
the party.  Evasive action is usual and
futile, followed by
anger, for which you will be sorry
one day.

At length the illness will become
a permanent boarder requiring
accommodation – extra room
set aside in every part
of the day.  At table
you’ll make a place for both
the loved one and the illness.
At night you will pray
for both, though what you pray for
is your burden
to carry

In the end
there will be one again, but not the one
you knew.  The loved one will have been
possessed completely by the stranger. 
Only the deus ex machina of death
can part them now. 

Waiting with the stranger
at the terminus, peering into the dark
tunnel for any approaching light
you will feel completely

When the transport comes
at last, the suffocating shadow will step away
and memory will restore the singular person
your loved one was, leaving you trying
to remember.  For if you forget
any small thing – today’s date or
mayonnaise at the store –
you’ll start looking
over your shoulder, wondering
if you are being
followed now too.