My name is Mrs. Dickinson. I know this information. I repeat to myself, “My name is Mrs. Dickinson.” I am not able to retrieve many aspects of myself. The past is curiously present. The present is lost in an impenetrable haze. What I ate this morning, who visited yesterday or what I did last week are lost to me. I try to hone in on them but short term memories are amorphous and slippery, lost to me. The distant past welcomes me. I know the prognosis. My mother retreated from the present, then was lost in the past. She forgot my name, her name, how to dress, how to speak, how to eat, then finally, how to breathe. It’s strange, but there is still a piece of me alive inside, the Observer. The Observer is part of the Hemlock Society. Bad planning makes it a moot point. This morning I woke up with the gift -- or the curse -- of utter clarity.
I am in this expensive hotel of death waiting for my time. I understand my circumstances but don’t have anyone here at this moment to express my desire to end my life. These brief windows of lucidity are getting more and more rare. The nurses pat my hand and treat me exactly the same when I am rational and when I am irrational. Honestly, I would try to escape this place so I could find a way to end it, but I am literally tied to this chair. All the pleading in the world won’t convince anyone to untie me. I am the crazy lady who wanders because she has Altzheimer’s.
I saw Carl and Julia last night. I am glad they are back together. His brown hair and broad shoulders looks so attractive beside her Jennifer Jones (the long-dead singer from the 50‘s that Marshall and I loved) looks. Long brown hair, brown eyes, high cheekbones and bow lips. I always thought if her intellect slipped, Julia could be a model. The symmetry in her face is what people like. I have admired the plastic elasticity of her face that allows her to be expressive without uttering a word.
Carl asked me questions. He asked me about how I came to marry Marshall. He asked about Marshall’s parents. He asked some about Julia and what the first fifteen years of her life were like, but he asked more about the years from tenth grade to graduating college. My answers were incomplete. It was so frustrating for me not to be able to tell him what he most needed to know. Locked in my head is the story Julia needs to hear.
It is harder and harder for me to hold all the pieces in my hands. They are not mine any longer. By the time the kids left, I was so agitated by what I didn’t know and couldn’t tell them that I asked a nurse for a sleeping pill. Maybe the sleep of the dead is what has allowed me to think this morning. The edges of my memories are shrinking. Quickly, I take my pad and try to write down a message. I get so far as “Find the album in.....” and the words slip from my thoughts. I can see the album and where it sits on the shelf above my bed. What house was that bed it? Who lives there now? And the questions overtake the answers and I can’t remember my name. Maybe it is Mrs. Dickinson?