Nobody could possibly have prepared me for what it would be like when my mom died. I’m barely able to describe it, seeing as how I’ve lost my mind and all.

What I can tell you is what it feels like. It seems to boil down to, “You’ve completely lost my mind and that’s perfectly normal.” This is typically said to me by someone with a piteous tone and a pat on the head; and I’m grateful as I can be for the tone and the pat!

The word that keeps running through my head is torpor (“a state of motor and mental inactivity with a partial suspension of sensibility”) with a feeling of being completely lost.  Definitely shaken AND stirred.

In the 70’s, there was an expression for when you smoked pot and were a little high: “Maintain.” As in “Maintain the appearance of being perfectly normal when you walk past your parents in the living room when you are stoned off your rocker, red-eyed and giggling.”

In the aftermath of my mom’s death (today in fact is 2 weeks to the day), I occasionally catch myself thinking I’m just fine. And then I go and do something completely “off” . . . I think I’m “maintaining” but instead, it’s like I’m wearing those feetie pajamas with the back door hanging open, and everybody can see it but me.

For instance, it took me five separate trips from her house to the car the day she died. First, the new locks didn’t work — or worked too well — and I was locked inside the house. Then I remembered I could simply go out the sliding glass door. I’M A GENIUS! Got to the car. No purse. Tromp back up the little walkway and around back, grab purse and head back out to car. Now no car keys.

And so it went. It wasn’t until the third trip I realize that it might – just maybe – have something remotely to do with my state of mind.

Or just today when I thought I left my apartment perfectly groomed and caught sight of myself in just a couple of hours later in the ladies’ room mirror at my office. My mom used to describe this particular look as “ready to haunt houses.”

I have what can best be described (by me) as uncontrollable emotional diarrhea.  I never know when it will hit. I’d like to go out but fear traveling to far from familiar surroundings. I wish they made a diaper to conceal eruptions while at the grocery store or in the office.  Perhaps my sense or humor – inherited from and honed by Mom – is exactly that.

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Connie Vasquez

Connie Vasquez is an only child who recently lost her mother after years with Alzheimer's. Through that experience, she learned about compassion, love, forgiveness and grace. Her sense of humor also saw her through. A practicing attorney, cardiac yoga teacher and life coach, Connie lives in New York City.

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