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

About Pennie Nichols

This little corner is dedicated to some of the things that interest me and to those of you who share those interests about relationships, travel, cooking, gardening, canning, jewelry, and writing. I’ll throw in some recipes and stories for your reading pleasure.

11 Replies to “Running out of breath (not really a poem, but . . .)”

  1. Paul Brads

    My MIL is in a memory care unit and there seems to be less and less of her every time we visit. She looks at me knowing she should know me but knows she can’t place me. It has to be so frustrating for her. She will look at me with a scowl (we always got on well) and then force a smile as if to way, “I am sure he belongs here, so I’ll be nice!”

    Great post.

  2. Rena

    You are on a journey that you don’t want to take and you alone have to make the decisions. It’s a crushing weight and I’m so sorry that you have to go through it. You won’t be the same person after that you are before but you’ll be wiser, stronger and grateful. You can do this and you are never alone.

  3. Diane

    Beautiful, Pennie. Heart wrenching and evocative and beautiful.
    It brought to mind my mother, in the last few years with Parkinson’s. She would start a word, then get mixed up and substitute another word that started similarly. That totally confused her and she would just quit. For a woman who spent her life with words, it was heart-breaking.

    • Pennie Nichols Post author

      I see mom giving up more and more. There’s a fine line between encouraging her to hang on and pushing too hard against the demons that take her words. I try to navigate that.

  4. Betty

    Oh my, I’m in tears for Momma Nick, Poppa Nick and you! Prayers going up for strength, patience, guidance and comfort during this season of life! Luv y’all!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *