Stars I shall find...
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
She lays back into the sunlight spilling on the bed. Impatient. Annoyed. She is waiting for me. She is waiting for me to apply lotions, mascara, eyeliner; my daily battle armor. She finds this ritual superfluous, a word she can no longer conjure, but would hurl at my head if she could. Ignoring her air of martyrdom, I continue making face, slyly peeking at her as I finish my war paint.
She reclines because her back hurts, and to take advantage of the warmth of the spring sun, the heat multiplied by the window's glass. The warmth pleases her, and when her back finally relaxes, the pleasure spreads across her face. The lines soften, a serenity infuses her features. She's peaceful. I pause in my application to take a picture of her in my mind. My gaze lingers. Hers is the most beautiful face in the world, aglow from the shaft of sunshine. Worry, courage, great joy, and deep fear, blended from an ordinary life into an extraordinary visage. She is a beauty, even in dementia, preparing herself for the end of that life.
My subconscious thought leaps to consciousness, "Why can't this be the light that pulls her into the next world, sparing her from what's coming?"
Then I realize I've self-censored.
"...sparing me from what's coming..." is what I really thought.
In a split second I cycle through an army of emotions: disgust, horror, I loathe myself, utterly appalled at my selfishness. My ugliness not worthy of her beauty.
As I turn back to my reflection, I soften my recriminations. I realize that while at this moment I am outwardly arming my self for the day, every moment of my days I am inwardly preparing for the battle ahead. I am a warrior with cowardly thoughts who is gathering the strength to fight not only my enemy, but my own fear. To swallow my own terror and unleash an arsenal on any dementia horror that advances on my mother's days. Some days I shall be a hero, victorious. Some days I shall be a defeated soldier, weary. Some days I shall be a coward, cringing in fear. But even in cowardice, I will be her champion, for as long as she needs me.
Forgiveness bestowed, and my resolve fortified, I look to her. She is still in a gentle repose. I think of a line from a poem I once had to learn, "...something, something, stars I shall find..."
"There Will Be Rest"
There will be rest, and sure stars shining Over the roof-tops crowned with snow, A reign of rest, serene forgetting, The music of stillness holy and low.
I will make this world of my devising Out of a dream in my lonely mind. I shall find the crystal of peace, – above me Stars I shall find.
- Sara Teasdale, American Poet
Mother, I lay my sword at your feet in service to you and the stars you shall find.