Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lyla

Lyla is almost gone. Etta is gone. I am sleeping poorly and dreaming of the dead.

Yesterday, I sat in the room with Etta's body, listening to the harpist sent over by hospice but who arrived just a little too late. No worries... her children figured harp music could accompany their mother's soul as it finally rose to join her husband and just in time for Valentine's day. This is what they thought was happening, so how do I know? When they invited me, I joined them so as not to appear rude.

Me.

Had I any humanity in my threadbare bag of tricks, I would surely have leaned back in the chair and allow the music to wash over me. I would have taken in the gravity of my situation. But all I could think was: I really must tune my harp and start practicing again.

Selfless? Not this girl.

But Lyla? This is different. Mother to four wild boys, wife of a cop. She carried her purse everywhere, every day. It was the only thing left that made her a woman. The only thing she could remember needing -- not shelter, not sustinence. She kept all of her bingo winnings in it: squashed bits of chocolate and grimy poker chips -- the token economy of the dementia world where money means nothing and is as useful to wipe your ass with as it is to spend. Every night when I left work, I'd call to her as she sat watching television: "You're in charge," I'd say. She'd laugh and wave me away. She was cool. She never lost it. I should say she IS cool, in the present tense, because she is still alive, this moment she is. Still breathing, still small and adorable, still Lyla.

3 comments:

L. said...

that's a very beautiful thing you said about Lyla. the chill giving things you can write. never stop.

asha said...

wow.

asha said...

i don't want her to die.