Sitting in the Ashes
A friend sent Bud a text Sunday evening that said, “Tell Sally that I’m sorry I couldn’t stay to chat. I don’t think crying counts as chatting.”
She and I have done that dance before — asking how things are going and then watching the other’s eyes fill with tears as she tries to find words. The slow demise of a parent is not easy.
Yesterday a lady from the Alzheimer’s Association called me.
Last week, when I had been in semi-crisis mode, a nurse had called her on my behalf but she had been on vacation. Now she was back and checking in.
“What’s going on?” the Alzheimer’s Association lady asked.
I replied with a lengthy convoluted story. It was like my poor attempts at knitting when I kept dropping stitches. Over and over I had unravel a little to go back and fill in a gap.
“I’m not telling this very well, am I,” I asked. I hadn’t known where to begin the story. A month ago? A year ago? While my mother was alive?
“I’m following,” she said.
And she listened.
For a long time.
When I was done, she didn’t offer advice or even the usual perfunctory consolations. She matter-of-factly told me about the services available through her organization and offered to send me some fact sheets.
Having a stranger listen — just listen — was exactly what I needed.
I wish I could do that for my friend — just sit with her in the ashes so she knows that she’s not alone.