My short story Within Reach came out last Monday and it's been exciting and yet scary. You put so much time and energy, not to mention your heart, into a story and release it to the world and then you hope it is enjoyed. While this is a fantasy story I wrote, it is also my family's story, and hopefully it will resonate with anyone who has struggled with the loss of a loved one. Thank you to everyone who has been supportive and who have already given me kind and positive feedback!
Here is an excerpt -
My heart jumped as my tires slipped on the wet pavement. The pouring rain swallowed the faint glimmer of my old Toyota’s headlights as I pumped my brakes and negotiated the bend in the road. Slow down, I told myself, but the gnawing unease in my stomach urged me to hurry. It was only a few more miles now. An extra five minutes would make no difference. One thing was certain; I would be no help to my mother if I had an accident.
I tried to push our last argument to the back of my mind. Remembering the anger and recriminations wouldn’t keep my mind on my driving. My mother had been furious when I said she needed to come live with us or find an assisted living arrangement. She wouldn’t accept her failing memory was a hazard to herself and others. Her personality had slowly changed as the disease progressed, until she was unable to be reasonable anymore. That scared me. Well, now the other choices were gone. Something had to change. I knew there would be another fight, but I had no choice. Tomorrow, I’d call my mother’s doctor to see what options existed for the swiftly deteriorating situation.
Her doctors kept assuring me Mom was able to live alone, but I knew she had just hidden the degree to which her confusion had advanced. She was a wonderful actress. It seemed I was the only one who saw behind the mask she showed the world. I’d sworn when I learned of my mother’s condition I would be there for her. She had been there for me. Little did I know how difficult that vow would become for all of us.
The rain started to come down in torrents, so I could hardly see the twisting road. I had driven this route so many times, but now I felt lost. The trees lining the sides of the road appeared, closing in on me, and the black pavement descended into an abyss around the next turn. My head pounded with the effort just to stay alert and not to panic.
At times, it seemed like Mom was a three-year-old trapped in an old woman’s body. I would look in her eyes and see emptiness where she once was. I hiccoughed a sob and tried to hold it together. I didn’t know how much more I could take. I was so tired.
I couldn’t believe it when I got my mother’s voice message saying she accidentally left her cat Rhubarb outside and she was going to look for it. What if she was hit by a car that didn’t see her in the rainy darkness? Please, please don’t let her get hurt, I prayed over and over to whoever might be listening as I drove through the dismal night.
Rhubarb died three years ago.
I've received two five star reviews on amazon for which I am so grateful!
A story of a daughter's unshakable love of a mother losing her connection with the world and the pain of watching it happen. Beautiful and touching. - Debra Harrison
If you have a family member with dementia you will relate to this story! It helped me to focus on the happy memories with my own mother. - Bma
If you're interested in reading Within Reach you can follow the below links.
Melange - http://www.melange-books.com/authors/jillbisker/withinreach.html