blog Eldercare Journal

Don’t Let Me Walk Alone

When the sundown comes, don’t let me walk alone.

Memories begin to fade, flaking away like ash blowing before the flame. Sparks of fear rise, burning against the night sky. Fragments, they are. Flickering, untethered, soon to burn out and fall to the earth in a cold gray rain.

Don’t let me walk alone, she says, because she never has before. She wrestled her twin in the womb and walked hand in hand with Jimmy for longer than most people live. What few moments of isolation she experienced were a living nightmare: Brief, calamitous first marriage. Troubled birth in an Army hospital, followed by forced separation from her stillborn son. Cascade failure of body and mind as first her husband and then her dog and then her own spirit and body and mind withered away.

Hands like bone, loosely wrapped in leather. Hair thinned to a muppet frizz. Eyes faded to steel unfixed and searching. Where the hell did we get thirty chickens? Where’s my boy? I just don’t get it there’s something gone wrong with my mind why won’t my legs work no I don’t want to eat anythingmaybeilldrinksomesoda. Did you make drink like Barbie?

Don’t let me walk alone.

She asks after her daughters. Her son, lost more than sixty years ago. Strange men wander the house and chickens chase ducks across the bed, until antipsychotics kick in. Baby. Babababy. Good dog. Momma. Where’s momma. I want my momma. She’s gone. Momma’s gone.

Don’t let me walk alone.