She stopped making brownies.

What have we lost?

OK, let’s take an inventory.

Sure.

Helps us know where we are.

I get it.

So, tell us.

Fine. Um. Started, maybe three years ago. It’s hard to know. She was so anxious, anticipating its arrival, it’s hard to know when it arrived. What part of it was imaginary? What part of it was actually it?

Yes, but, inventory. What have we lost?

Are you kidding? Memory, of course.

I know. We all know that. But how did it come apart.

Oh, the pieces of it. None of us thought to take notes. But something like, well, first, confidence. I think that was first to go.

OK. 1. Confidence.

Yeah, and I know we’re lucky, because in some cases, they don’t lose the confidence. They think it’s everyone else.

You’re correct. You’re lucky. Then what?

Just about everything else starting fracturing, chipping away. Once you lose your confidence, you don’t trust yourself with anything.

But what did it look like.

Small things. Like recipes. She couldn’t remember if she’d already added that cup of flour or sugar. But she knew she wasn’t sure. She knew she needed help and she asked.

You’re very lucky.

We know! So I would come over and help her, walk through the recipe. Even though she couldn’t trust herself, it was amazing. Sometimes she’d remember those little tricks that aren’t part of the recipe. Make sure you… and After you finish…, you have to…

OK. So, 1. confidence, which meant you had to help more. Then what.

Like I said, we weren’t taking notes. It gets jumbled in my mind. She started losing things. I noticed she puts things away in odd places.

So, keeping up with personal belongings.

They weren’t always personal. Dishes. Pans. Corn cutters.

We’ll just call it organization. 2. Organization. What went next? You said she was doing puzzles. Did she stop doing puzzles?

Not at all. But they’re not really puzzles. She likes word scans. She works on her word scans, even today, desperately. I think she thinks they will save her. Lift the fog. I know they help, but I don’t think they’ll do what she wants.

That’s good. So she still engages. She still knows?

Definitely.

You’re…

I know. We’re lucky.

She stopped making brownies.

Can you remember what went next?

Hard to remember exactly. Her voice, maybe. Her words.

Not sure I understand.

It’s like her voice is out of practice. Gravel collects in her throat. Her words fall over the uneven path, losing their way. She’ll start a story or a thought, then cough because gravel, then the words are gone. Sometimes I know where she is going and can fill in the blank. A simple word or name —rug, Steven, doctor, tractor— might put her back on track. Lately, though, she gives up.

So 3. Language. She’s struggling to put complete sentences together.

Yes! She starts then loses the thread. Sometimes I can help, but more and more, there’s just not enough information.

She’s still driving?

No. That was easy. Her driving was still fine, but the doctor explained that she could be sued, even if it wasn’t her fault. That was enough.

So, 4. Driving. You’re lucky about how that went down.

We know.

What about cooking?

Measuring

Complex cooking, number 5? She still warms things up. But she doesn’t cook dumplings, butter beans, or corn. Laundry is questionable. Number 6. The floors… Listen to me. All the domestic things! We’re measuring her progress in domestics!

It’s just a way of measuring.

This is the saddest conversation.

I know.

No you don’t. You’re hitting the domestics. All the wifely things that are falling away. Did you know she was a PE teacher? She used to have a routine. Sit ups, push-ups, stretches, weights. Every morning. We should have noticed when that stopped.

You’re right. That’s important. So 7. Exercise.

I don’t know if that was 7 or 2 or 10! It’s gone. My point is… I don’t know what my point is. When was the last time she balanced the checkbook? That’s significant. When was the last time she refinished a piece of furniture on her own? Made a 24-hour drive to visit her son? Everyone asks the last time she did a load of laundry, but she was more than a housewife!

I understand she still mows.

She does. She’s wrecking the mower but she does. She feels useful, and we don’t want to take that from her. I’m sorry. Sorry I snapped at you.

No worries. Understandable. Back to inventory…

I wonder when she dribbled her last basketball, won her last ping pong game. She played tennis! Coached. Helped me teach swimming lessons. Even babies. I can’t remember the last time she got in the pool.

She was an athlete, I see.

Yes. Before when I snapped, I said “we’re measuring her progress” but that’s not true, is it? It’s the progress of the disease. We measure her diminishing, opposite of progress.

Yes. We’re just taking inventory.

Of her losses. Well, here’s one. Brownies!

Sorry?

She stopped making brownies.

She used to make them for church. And this isn’t about housewivery. It was her contribution. The kids asked for them. That was her thing. That made her somebody. A point of pride that they loved the brownies. She’d always explain to anyone who asked, “Duncan Hines, dark fudge brownies.” Boxed brownies! Easy! She made them for years until a couple of… , lord knows, maybe as many as six weeks ago. Maybe three months. She stopped looking for the boxes on the shelves. Stopped making them.

So, number 8? I think we’re at 8. Brownies.

She stopped making brownies.

I’m so sorry.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020

No perfect mom

Healing work centers around recovery and often the recovery is from damage inflicted by a parent. Yeah! Your mom and/or your dad!

So this is a different kind of mother’s day message. If you wanted sappy sweet, this isn’t the one.

What parents do

Some of you were truly battered by a parent, emotionally, some of you physically, but I felt nurtured and supported, even spoiled, by my parents. I have trouble embracing the notion that my mom or dad damaged me. Yet any healing work, any counseling turns the loop to the family dynamic.

I get it. There are moments when a parent, deliberately or unwittingly, stifles something she should have nurtured. Moments where you were swept through his journey of choice when it wasn’t ideal for you. You may live your life without ever examining it. Maybe you harbor subterranean anger that poisons every garden you plant, every effort you make. Or you may spend hundreds of dollars diving deep into the childhood wounds.

No one is perfect.

Not a single one of us. If we’re lucky enough to move through parenting years, we’re going to trip up somewhere, drop a ball over there, wreck a moment here, shove a secret into a closet. If I find a moment that needs healing because of mom or dad, I try to see them, human, doing the best they could, dad looking for the user’s manual, mom for the plugs to close up the leaks. I lean in just enough to heal, just enough to acknowledge those moments from my childhood that lift their heads and say: Remember this? when the counselor demands it. I lean in deeper to forgive.

But, yikes. When I lean back, I panic! What damage did I do to my kids!!?? What kind of recovery-from-mom work do they need to do?

There is no perfect mom.

Mine’s not. I’m not. Yours wasn’t. If you’re one, you aren’t a perfect mom either. But let’s be tender with our moms, with ourselves. None of us received that user manual, and even if you read all the parenting books and magazines, you fell off the page from time to time. It’s inevitable. We all need to forgive and be forgiven.

Can you still tell mom “You’re the best mom ever” or smile when your children tell you the same? Sure! We’re in this together. Learning. And we did the best we could with the tools we were given (that last phrase is loaded). Those of us who can afford it or understand we need it, will spend at least a little time in recovery from mom. But feel free to tell her Thanks for being the best mom ever. And if you’re a mom, don’t let Dr. Doubt smother the emotion when yours tell you the same. It’s code for I love you, and we all need more love.

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020

Dear Dad, I see you.

Dear Dad,

I’m writing instead of calling, because I would fall all over myself before I managed to share these words. Today, I’m reverting to my childhood and leaving you a written message. Imagine finding this on the dining room table or taped to the fridge. Maybe on your pillow.

The message is simple:

I see you.

But I need to explain, a trait I inherited from you. So give me a minute.

When I’m there, I mostly spend time with mom, little projects to keep her afloat, errands to go through her grocery list. But, when I’m there, I see you too. I do.

When I write, I mostly write about mom and her battle. But I know, we all know, this is your battle too. She may be the warrior, but you’re her brave body guard.

And inside your armor, I see your heart. It’s breaking.

I’ve always seen you. And even from here, 90 miles away as we shelter at home, I see you.

The isolation.

Isolation suits me. Even in my childhood, sprawled in my room with notes and albums or just playing in the those upper stories of my brain, I was never lonely alone. Another gene you shared with me.

In isolation, I’m nourishing that inner artist child, finishing projects, reflecting. Even as I thrive and go back to my roots in isolation, even from this distance, I see you.

I see you and mom, over there, just two people marooned on 100 acres. Isolation isn’t kind to you.  It’s cruel, even. The distance from family and community diminishes her mind and nourishes her disease. That distance from family and community sits heavy on your already-burdened shoulders as you shepherd mom through these lonely days.

I’m grateful that you’re there with mom, and I see you. I know your heart aches under that armor. I know you’re weary from the weight of the armor.

You answer the same questions twenty times a day.

When’s Pennie coming back to take care of the garden?
Where’s my car?
How am I going to manage all that? gesturing the abundance of plants in the garden.

I see you. Patient. Feeling remorse when you lose that for a moment. It’s OK. We do the best we can.

I see you. Managing. The cooking. The money. The farm. The projects. Mom. You’re strong and smart. But some days you’re drained.

Before this, standing at mom’s side to battle the disease was already taking a toll. In isolation, the toll is great. Almost too much.

I see you, and you’re powering through. You gave me that too. Bracing shoulders, mind, whole body and armor, and powering through a tough patch or a challenging project. I see you.

I’m grateful for you.

Thank you for taking her to her neurologist this week.

Everyone in masks. The doc offered an elbow bump instead of a hand shake . . .

She may not tell you, but I know she’s grateful too. Even though the news is heavy, and perhaps a little guarded since she’s with you.

As expected, she did not score well on her test.

But I see you, dad. By her side, every step of the way. In the kitchen. At the doctor. In the grocery. In the garden.

I’m grateful.

Your world with mom is crumbling in your hands, at your feet, before your eyes, and you are there. I see you. You hold her, help her, shepherd her, encourage her.

When you finally sit alone, isolated in your office, I see you. And it’s OK.

  • When you pound an angry fist on your desk, it’s OK. I see your frustration and anger. It’s OK —it’s normal!— to feel angry now.
  • When you drop your chin to your chest and just let the tears come, I see you. It’s OK to feel sadness and grief.
  • Sometimes you find the isolation in your office comforting, and you sigh. Relieved. Alone at last. I see you. And it’s OK. It’s OK to take a break, to replenish, to be happy alone for a minute.

You shield her from your emotions, tucking the anger, the grief, and the relief, that mob of emotions, deep inside your armor. It’s OK to shield her. But I hope you know, I see you.

That’s all. I just want you to know I see love you.

Pennie

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.

Don’t apologize for your upbeat online persona

This is not an invitation to defraud your Facebook friends or your swelling social-media “public.” Certainly not an invitation to post more selfies (the internet is already flooded with selfies!).

But we shouldn’t apologize for showing the best of ourselves. Not even when that online persona is a little exaggerated.

If you’re even the tiniest bit familiar with The Secret and any of the law of attraction coaches, you know that, along with gratitude, one of the strongest tools to reaching our goals is to project and feel the joy of what we want to be.

With our social media profiles, we are literally projecting images of and stories about ourselves. If the projection, even if exaggerated on a positive note, is true to who you strive to be, that’s not fake. It’s great. You’re modeling for your future self and for others. I would even argue that it’s a form of gratitude for who you are right now and where that is taking you.

Surely we can celebrate the value of pouring positive energy into the river of timelines.

I’m grateful for those who share the good things we are and can be. Thank you!

And please don’t apologize.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.

The Struggle

I struggle with the struggle of body image, loving yourself, healthy weight . . . all of the things that go into healthy regard for differences. There’s this no-win vortex.

  • When you’re overweight, don’t body-shame yourself.
  • When you lose weight, be careful how you announce it, lest you shame someone who hasn’t.
  • When you’re too skinny, don’t body shame yourself.
  • When you change your diet and work out to build muscle on those bones, don’t brag in a way that body shames the skinny girl.

We tiptoe around healthy body image vs. healthy body weight vs. loving where we are vs. setting goals for where we want to be. I have friends who have legitimately worked on nutrition and exercise, but when they take photos of themselves to show their progress, they include a “disclaimer” of sorts to make sure they don’t tread over those who are still in the struggle.

I’ve always struggled with weight. We set impossible standards. When I look back at photos of my younger self, I wonder why I felt like I was fat all those years. I was fine. Can I say that? Fat? Fine? But fat vs. fine is not the real struggle for me. And this is not about PC.

A few years ago, I was sitting on my friend’s patio across from her then boyfriend. I don’t remember what we were talking about but, apparently, we were disagreeing  about something. I think he had had a few. When I felt like I was making a little traction in our discussion, he said:

Sit your fat ass down.
Whoa!

Can you hear me?

My friend apologized for her boyfriend’s comment. But my “whoa!” was not about his comment or my fat ass. At the time, my ass was bigger than I wanted, but I wondered Is that all you see? We were having a conversation. Is that really all you have?

I didn’t have a clever comeback in the moment. Honestly, I didn’t need one. I didn’t really care what he thought. But I’ve thought about that incident over the years. I realize that people, especially women, are dismissed if they’re too heavy, too skinny, too plain, too made-up, too pretty even! They don’t get to keep their voice at the table: Sit your ___ ass down!

I struggle with body image because it gets in the way when it shouldn’t. I remember an episode of a show Judd Hirsch was in, where he “met” a woman over the phone. They had several conversations and he pretty much fell in love with her. Then he met her in person, and she wasn’t what he expected.

I get it. Body chemistry counts for something. But it shouldn’t discount everything else. He liked her! She was funny. Clever. And Judd’s character could hear and understand her before he met her in physical.

Whoa! Sit your ass down! You don’t look like what I wanted.

I don’t have answers and I don’t think any single one of us can fix this. I’m also not unguilty of dismissing someone because they’re too something physically. But I’ll do my part to listen harder, hear better, see through it, and allow all the voices at the table —no matter what shape, color, or size— to be heard. Yeah. Even if you don’t or can’t, I’ll sit my fat ass down and listen.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.

Bananas!

Everything is bananas right now.

I’m cautious speaking this aloud because some people are having a dreadful time. I’m not. Sounds bananas to some, I’m sure, but I’m thriving in this time out. I feel reconnected, recharged. I’m finishing projects around the house that I thought would take me years to tackle. I’m working, writing, following coaches and healers, practicing self-care and mindfulness . . . I’m never bored. I don’t hate this collective pause.

The battle of the bananas

This weekend, I chose to battle the bananas. Every year, I set out to get rid of them, but as I begin, my heart softens (the flowers are so pretty!), and I thin them instead, knowing they’ll be just as fierce next year.

Today, I cut down the dead ones, the tall ones tangled in the dead ones, alternating between swearing at the tangles and apologizing to the ones I took out by accident. Even though the execution feels powerful and fulfilling, it’s anticlimactic looking back on the finished job. The raggedy patch of banana trees probably looks a little worse than when I started. I take comfort knowing the patch will fill in nicely in about a week, and I’ve given the slain trees a last hurrah as a carpet of weed-block to help choke out that incessant Virginia creeper that creeps in from the arboretum.

Next on my to-do list today: the juniper tree. The first weekend of the quarantine, I leaned against the tree and I could feel the dead roots give.

I messed up.

About four or five years ago, mom was visiting. She was already talking about forgetting, worrying about her mind. But she was still comfortable driving an hour and a half from the farm to my house. She would make special trips just to help me out, attend a choir performance, watch a game. I’m not sure why she came that trip, but she was working in the yard.

What can I do to help you?
Do you want to work on this area? These weed trees under the fig tree are out of control.

Just that week I had already trimmed the juniper tree, fashioning a hanging basket area. I had eight to ten pots hanging from the two main branches.

What about this tree?
I already trimmed it. See? I use it for my hanging baskets.
Where’s that . . . Mom made a sawing motion.
The saw you gave me? Right here, in the green house.

She loves that little tool, and I get it. Slices right through! I used it to slay the bananas.

The juniper tree day was a weekday. After I gave her the saw, I went inside, back to work. When I came out a couple of hours later, the weed trees were all down. So was most of the juniper.

I stopped in my tracks as I came around the greenhouse. I guess she looked up just before I wiped the dismay off my face.

Uh oh. Did I mess up?

Over the last three years, she has used this phrase quite a bit: I messed up. In that moment, I felt our roles clearly turn that parent-child corner.

No, no, it’s OK. I hadn’t planned to chop it down, but . . .
Maybe it’ll grow back. There’s still . . . she motioned at the trunk area.
Yeah, maybe it’ll grow back.

Some things grow back. Some things don’t. The banana trees will grow back. The juniper didn’t.

#coronachronicles

I think I was OK with mom’s condition, knowing that I could spend good quality time with her on a regular basis, encourage her in her battle. We’re beginning our fifth week of quarantine with no clear end date, and I feel less OK about it.

I’m thriving, but I’m sad. The distance from mom and dad breaks my heart. The isolation is hard on both of them, and I know the burden and sadness of dealing with mom’s Alzheimer’s alone is exhausting for dad.

When are you coming back?
I don’t know, Mom. We have to wait until after the virus.

Post Covid-19, some things will go back to normal. Some won’t.

After the shelter-in-place is lifted, I’ll go back, start my regular visits to the farm. Normal? I know I won’t pick up where I left off with mom. But we’ll pick up where we can. We’ll miss picking dewberries together, but maybe I’ll be back in time for blueberries. I’ll miss her birthday. Probably mother’s day too.

Today was a good day. I used the saw mom gave me to thin the banana trees. Then I pulled up the juniper. I knew it wouldn’t recover. Mom won’t either. Virus or no, everyday, someone is losing grip of something. That life my dad enjoyed with mom for over 60 years, his grip on it is slipping.

Thriving and hope

From time to time, I feel a little survivor’s guilt swell up, but I swallow it down. I’ve had both a new acquaintance and a dear long-time friend tell me: “It helps to know some people are doing well. Thanks for sharing. It gives me hope.”

So I am sharing. Cautiously. I’m feeling blessed and grateful, even as I move through the grief for the distance, the grief for this nation, for this planet. My thriving is just a drop of hope into an ocean of fear, but maybe it’s just the drop someone needs.

Post virus, some things will still be bananas. Things will get better, some things might even be better. But some things won’t. We might not be able to pick up where we left off, but we’ll all pick up where we can and, hopefully, do our best with what we carry forward.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.

Time Out

Time out

You’re in time out
Could be worse.
It could be a spanking.
You just wait until dad gets home!
Or it could be a rejection.
Out! I can’t look at you anymore!
But it’s just time out.

Stay in your room.
No, you can’t leave yet.
What did you say?
Just wait until I tell your mom!

You’re in time out squirt.
Sit here and think about what you did.
The mindlessness,
Like a rat, gnawing away at the fine edges of all the beautiful things.
No respect. No consideration for me
your mom
your dad.
Taking all the things we’ve provided for granted.

You sit here and think about that, why don’t you?
The ease of playing with friends in parks and at parties.
Parties! Dinner parties, birthday parties, retirement parties
where everyone shared cakes and punch and finger foods.
You sit here and think about all those things you didn’t appreciate.
The mountains of choices at stores.
The restaurants, Can I have a taste of yours?
The Hi! Come give me a hug!s at church.
The neighborly handshakes across a fence.
The friendly conversations around a fire pit.
Drinking from water fountains.
Splashing around in public fountains and pools.

You’re in time out and you’d best do as I say.
Sit here.
Be grateful for all you still have.
And don’t come back out until you can be a better human.

You’re in time out.
It’s for your own good.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.

A long row to hoe

We’re two weeks in: shelter in place. I’m not sure how much longer we’ll do this, but I think we have a long row to hoe.

Collective crisis

I see the frantic posts as friends and family settle in to work from home, not work at all, isolate with children and parents, or isolate all alone.

I read helpful posts about how to cope, how to disinfect, reminders for self-care, poetry to lift us up, naming this grief.

But honestly, I don’t feel most of it.

I do feel something because this is a collective anxiety, a collective grief and confusion. For the most part, however, the coronavirus has not changed my life.

  • I’ve shopped in bulk for thirty years so I didn’t need to make a special run for groceries or toilet paper.
  • I’ve worked from home for twenty-four years, so 1) I still have work, and 2) my workspace has not changed.
  • I’ve been stocked up on supplies for all the little projects I want to tackle, and when I don’t have something, Amazon Prime delivers.

Yet, my life is different. Not necessarily in bad ways. I’m more mindful. Mindful of my movements through public spaces, of going into public spaces, of the surfaces and clothing I touch and use, of where and how I spend my time. I’m alone less, with my partner working from home now. I stay home more. These aren’t bad things.

Staying home means staying away

The last part, staying home more, is probably hardest for me. I usually spend half my time on the farm, close to my folks, so I can help mom and dad as needed. Now I can’t risk giving this invisible enemy a ride to the farm. So I won’t go back for a while.

Last week, I made a grocery haul to the farm to make sure mom and dad have enough.

I don’t stay long.

Mom asks questions and seems to understand, but then asks again.

When are you coming back?
I’m not sure. The virus, remember? But Audrey and Jason are staying here. They’ll be safe to spend time with you soon.
What are you going to do?
I’ll stay in Baton Rouge with Steven. Work.
When are you coming back here?

Back to the garden

Before I leave, I go with mom to check on the garden and greenhouse. I remind her gently, Don’t get too close to me.

We check on the plants, decide to transplant the zucchini. I didn’t come prepared, so I hoe a new row for the zucchini in flip flops and a sundress. We water. We talk. Mom asks questions. I hold my hands up: No closer!

I planted the garden with mom hoping to give her manageable tasks that help occupy her day, help her feel useful. But some days, she tells dad How am I going to do this!? Some days it’s a little much. Especially now. The virus and isolation.

When I’m with her to help, she enjoys gardening. Tugging at the hose just so, making sure it’s straight so it won’t scrape across the plants in the neighboring row. Pulling up the weeds and rogue grasses. Muscle memory and meditation.

A long row to hoe

I watch her knowing I may not be back for weeks, months even.

When are you coming back to do something with those tomatoes?
I don’t know, but I’ll make sure Audrey helps you.

My life hasn’t changed much because of the virus. I still spend about sixty hours a week in front of my two computer screens, working, writing, paying bills. I still cook most of my meals, go to the garage for paper towels when I use the last towel from the roll in the kitchen, plant seeds in my garden, pull weeds, move rocks, dig holes. My life is pretty much the same, except I wear gloves to the grocery and disinfect the containers when I come home.

Mom’s isn’t the same. She’s more isolated than ever. Little doors are closing in her brain. No church. No grocery runs. No PT.

When are you coming back?
We have a long row to hoe, Mom. But we’ll be okay. And I’ll meet you on the other side of this. I promise.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.

Working with you

“I like working with you, ” she said casually as I walked away.

Why did this make make me tear up?

We had spent a few minutes, about 60, working on the greenhouse, repotting seedlings, watering.

“I like working with you.”

But you taught me all this we do.

I tear up because she doesn’t remember.

“I like working with you.”

She’s miles into the ALZ, but when I told her I wanted to take my flailing little seedlings to the greenhouse, she put on her jacket and followed me. She knew what needed to be done.

As I shook the delicate roots of the seedlings apart and repotted them into pierced Dixie cups, she collected rat-chewed bags, pulled down dried vines, then swept away the cobwebs. She prepped the greenhouse.

“I like working with you.”

She acts amazed when I pull off moves much less complex than the ones I watched her perform over the years. I tear up because she doesn’t remember that she taught me how.

“I like working with you.”

Mom, I love working with you. You’ve trained me well.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020
Alzheimer's

Running out of breath (not really a poem, but . . .)

It’s like running out of breath, isn’t it?

As if you’re jogging too fast.

Unable to recover your breathing.

Gasping for air.

I’m doing those blocks you gave me. They’re really good.

Blocks? I think a couple of ticks.

Oh, the puzzle books!
Yes. Books not blocks. I get mixed up. They’re good for  [gasp, gasp] . . . I do them.

Like that last pushup.

Your arms struggle to push your body from the floor.

But you just can’t.

You collapse.

Yesterday when your dad and I went to the . . .

I wait a couple of ticks, then:

Where did you go?
I don’t know. [push, push, collapse] I know I wanted to tell you.
That’s okay. You’ll remember in a minute.

Sometimes you do. More and more you don’t.

You feel weary.

I feel you slipping away.

You work the puzzles, but you’re tuckered out.

It’s like you’re dozing off,
then perk up a second when you remember something you want to tell me.

But your mind is muddled with fatigue.

The words tangle in their own descenders and beaks.

We’re working on the . . . At the . . . [Deep sigh, shoulders fall.] I don’t know, I forget . . .

Sometimes we can untangle the words together.

More and more, weary of fighting to find them, you just let them go and shuffle away.

Sometimes, it’s like waking up from a great dream you want to share.

But by the time you find me, . . .

I really wanted to tell you something, but I lost it before I got here.

When you manage to string two or three sentences together,
the words scrape across the gravel that has collected in your throat . . .

Here, have some of my water.

. . . because words travel less and less across your vocal chords.

Still . . .

You amaze me.
Ever the athlete, you’re strong in this race, even as you gasp for air.
Always the coach, you’re inspirational, even as your arms fall limp and you collapse.
Still the sage, you’re wise, even when your words dissolve, silenced, on your tongue.
Forever my mom, you’re my role model, gravel-scraped chords, diminishing gaze, and all.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020