Tissue. Mom won’t go anywhere without it. She hangs onto Kleenex like a toddler hangs onto its favorite blanket. She may ask where we are going six or seven times during the time it takes to tuck her into a coat and zip it to her chin. Alzheimer’s won’t allow mom 10 seconds of retention but the button in her brain marked “tissue” is stuck in the “ON” position.
Mostly she dabs the Kleenex under her nose or the corners of her eyes in a movie star gesture noticeable for its hint of grace even with the awkward shaking in her arms and hands. Since the beginning of March, the ever-present-tissues soak up horrifying amounts of tears and snot.
Mom’s been crying. A lot.
On good days Mom is simply “weepy” (the term her caregiver uses). The bad days (solid weeping) are extra tough. Mom cries for me when I am not there and she cries on me when I am there. I hold her. I hold conversations with her doctor. I juggle medications. I give her chocolate. Sometimes I make her laugh. I replace limp flowers with fresh flowers and arrange her lovely vases throughout the beautiful home I work hard to try to keep her in so that she can be surrounded by her things in a familiar place. I sound like an angel as I write those sentences but here is the raw truth:
I am sad and mad and frustrated and impatient and just plain exhausted. I feel like a rumpled up Kleenex soaked in impossible amounts of tears and snot.
Here is something I noticed recently about Kleenex: The stuff is disarmingly resistant. I have wads of it stuffed into the cup holders in my truck. Somehow even the heaviest wet wads of seemingly delicate tissue eventually dry out and can be used again. I reach for crumpled Kleenex when crying my way over the mountain pass to home where my happy puppy and calm fiancé greet me and treat me as something more than just a sloppy snot-filled, tear-ridden rumpled mess of easily discarded tissue.
Love is a ray of warmth; a crazy miracle of drying strength. What could be tossed out or overlooked as used-up-tissue resurrects for another day within the embrace of love.