I meet her now for lunch. We share food and conversation. I can check in on how she’s doing. She can see that nothing bad is happening to me.
Her mind is lively. She’s still interested in art, architecture, politics. She showed me a couple political books she’s read lately. She’s in there, interested in the same things she was. Sometimes it’s like her illness isn’t there at all, except now there’s a difference.
I notice changes to her face. At times she won’t speak or won’t be listening. I sense what’s going on internally. Sometimes she responds to what I say in curious ways. She speaks as if she’s collecting data to reinforce conspiracies.
She suffers with this. I see the way she twitches and mumbles. The way she says “mercy” under her breath.
It’s better than when she was screaming. Screams like I’ve never heard. Screams that have people whipping their heads around from inside storefronts.
I haven’t see that in a while, yet I expect that behavior still occurs even though I haven’t seen it.
In my support groups, we say, “We accept that we cannot solve all problems.” It’s easier to know what I can and cannot do to help. That doesn’t make her situation any less devastating.