Uncertainty

Night is always approaching,
although now it seems larger,
its embrace wider.

As vision darkens
into a permanent blur,
will your mind follow?

Synapses blocked by too much
time accumulated inside
too many poisoned days.

Entangled in destruction,
each year shortened
by greed and complacency.

So many endings waiting
to repeat the between–
the overlapping of then and now.

Is this the point
where the circle meets,
where return is final?

Your species shadows
your short and fragile life
into a permanent unknown.

Your body is weary–
your mind has already departed–
the path is clear.

You always knew where
you would be going—the after
of the generation before.

And yet enough remains–
seeds still to be planted–
you scatter them while you can,

hoping to fertilize the roots
of that tree growing
from and into the center of time.

Ingrid has asked us at earthweal to visualize our lives in 10 years and choose one word to describe what we see.

My mother’s last remaining sibling just died, and her husband 3 months ago, the last of that generation in my family. My aunt was barely 17 when I was born, and married in her late 30s, so she spent a lot of time with our family when I was a child, teaching me to swim and to knit, as well as serving as an example of a single woman with a full and useful life.

Like my mother before her, she spent her last 10 years consumed by Alzheimer’s, a double death, as the mind preceded the body in severing its connection with the world.

Dementia has always been part of aging, and was once considered both a manifestation of witchcraft and a punishment for human sin. But Alzheimer’s in particular is a modern disease, partially genetic, but also probably triggered by environmental factors, or cultural factors like smoking, alcoholism, over-medication, poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity which are also related to our generally self-destructive lives.

When I think of my life in 10 years, I can’t help but see only uncertainty–will I also succumb to this horrible disease, if I live that long? Longevity is a mixed bag in my family, but I’d rather have my body fail me before my mind does.

34 thoughts on “Uncertainty

  1. Oh, Kerfe! This is so poignant. That first stanza could stand alone, but the uncertainty and circles add to it. I’m so sorry about the loss of your aunt, and all the emotions it churns up. It is so sad to see someone so diminished and to fear that is your own future. Sending you virtual hugs. 💙

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  2. I’m so sorry for your loss Kerfe! I know that there is a hole in your heart and an ache that begs attention. You are so right about Alzheimer’s – it is a double death. I am fortunate that it has not haunted my family but seeing it in the parents of friends is just as stinging. Hugs to you ❤

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  3. So much to think about here, Kerfe! Facing an uncertain future can be so frightening, yet as you so rightly remind us, the whole world is facing an uncertain future, and somehow we carry on, oblivious. Perhaps we are already suffering from a collective dementia.

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  4. Any death of a loved one is hard, but those long, slow deaths are hardest of all. We can’t know what the future has in store for us, and only the blindly faithful plough ahead with the same old same old, safe in their certitude that they’re heading for a better place anyway.

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    1. Most people who look forward to Heaven are just as busy trying to avoid death and afraid of it as everybody else. Death itself is not what I fear–it is, as you say, that long lingering.

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  5. “Your body is weary–
    your mind has already departed–
    the path is clear.” Groan. Every triplet is like the tolling of a bell. We must have at least enough sense to have the seeds ready.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a poignant post, Kerfe. I am so sorry for the devastating losses you have lived – such a cruel disease. It takes so much before it takes the life of the person. At my age, I am beyond weary today as we watch the world lurch way too close to world war. May this not happen.

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    1. It’s too much isn’t it? There is no negotiating with madness. But it’s hard to know what exactly to do. Truly, we can only do our best with what we have where we are. There are still many small battles to fight and sometimes even a small victory.

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  7. Very poignant. My mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s and it was very hard for all of us. My mom has dementia and I know if I live long enough, I might get it. I don’t want to live that long.
    I am so sorry about loss. Please accept my condolences.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so sad for your loss, and feel your anxieties very much. Self-destructive tendencies are something I know about, as I’m basically watching my husband (who’s much older than me) knowingly double his risk of Alzheimer’s every day. I’ve done what I can to make him take this seriously; hopefully he will before it’s too late. (Always the optimist, me.) For you, I wish a long, vibrant life of the mind!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sun. It’s hard to do the things we should do–my father quite smoking after many attempts only late in life, and died of lung cancer anyway. But still…
      I too hope my mind will not fail me. It should not fail any of us, ideally.

      Liked by 1 person

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