Time Fillers

to-do-list_painting

It is as though I am trying to stay one step ahead of my thoughts, as if they could never catch me. When I pause, I flounder. So I fill each waking moment with random thought. When there is nothing pressing to attend to, I find myself opening solitaire. Game after game. I fill the gaps of time with nonsensical busy-ness. I list to-do items that really have no relevance. Time fillers. Having achieved these mundane tasks I feel temporarily successful. I fit in. I have fulfilled the mundane, therefore, I am.

mom2I leave to run an errand and glimpse her sitting there. In the rocking chair, in the corner of her room, facing the door so she can see our comings and goings. She  spends all her time watching DVDs or Netflix, an absorbed expression on her face, brows furrowed; lips turned in a smile, twisted in grief; lights from the screen flickering across, through, between the deep folds of skin. Folds etched, a record of pain and happiness, satisfaction, expectations achieved and not. I wonder is she really there or has she lost herself in that world.

Her loneliness is palpable. I can’t bear it. I don’t think she recognizes it as loneliness, so who am I to say. Little things confuse her now. Is it Thursday? No it is Monday, but she can’t keep it straight. Do I go to the doctor today? You went yesterday, Mom. I can do anything. I really don’t mind repeating, speaking with love when I feel annoyed that she does not get it.  But when I feel the reality of her ness, that is when I falter. Her state of being on the edge, the precipice between this world and…she stands there, wavering to and fro. And she has no grasp of what is next.

Should that be comforting, or terrifying, having no idea of what comes next?

Out of respect I don’t often leave without telling her where I am going. Sometimes I long to slip out without her knowing where I am off to…but that just feels rude. Although, it does have its appeal, to just leave and go about without having to account for myself, where I am going or when I will return. We are so bordered by our responsibilities, our courtesies. Smothering.

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