The Ups, The Downs, and the I Don’t Knows

She was upset, then she was angry, then she was tired.

Some days are like that.

Some days, it’s like she’s the happiest lady in the world. She smiles and laughs and we talk about her favorite subject, and the only thing that seems to be permanently stuck, music. She loves music. That is her up. Alan Jackson and Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson and all those country singers she loves. She knows them. The songs, the artists, everything. Music clings to her like a second skin, and even on the days when she loses herself, she knows music. She is soothed by it, sings along to it, and wants it with her. It’s a good day when she calls me by her favorite nicknames for me; either Ladybug or Cory (not sure why but she loves calling me Cory). It’s a good day when she eats and drinks as best she can and when she’s semi-coherent, if not entirely.

Other days are like today. She’s upset, she’s irritated, she’s…tired. Her body is waging a war and slowly losing. It hardly has anything left to fight with and she’s just exhausted. Her eyes barely open on the really hard days and she doesn’t say much but what she does say is usually something similar to the babble of a baby who hasn’t quite worked out what words are. We usually go with it. She tries, she does, but she just can’t quite manage it. It’s a long way to the top and there are days when she’d rather camp out in the comfort of oblivion, than try to make it, when she’d rather keep her eyes closed than give me that wide-eyed look of recognition, of finally seeing me, rather than the projection of me in her head.

Then, there’s the ‘I don’t know’, the days of thousand mile stares, confusion, and wondering who she’s going to be from one minute to the next. Despite what you might be thinking, these are the hardest days. She’s not with it, but she’s not out of it. You really have no clue where she is, and it can be the hardest battle to fight. When she’s out of it, generally, she prefers to sleep and when she’s managed to fight her way to me, even for a few minutes, she’s pretty agreeable and content, but when she’s somewhere in between, it’s when her mental fog feels the heaviest. Because, on these days, she calls me, “Sarah” but looks right through me, and she reaches for things that aren’t there. She looks but doesn’t see and you wonder if she’s seeing anything but ghosts, the remnants of people, who she once knew, but can’t quite figure out. ‘I don’t know’ days are the worst because you can’t find her, you can’t figure out if she’s up or down, she’s just somewhere in the fog, with no sense of what direction she’s going in.

I wish I could say she’s had more ups than downs but the truth is, she lingers more in the ‘I don’t know’ or even the ‘down’ than the up. The truth is…I miss hearing her call me Ladybug or Cory…and the truth is, our favorite songs have become hard to hear because it’s a reminder that…music’s all I have left. Music is the only way anyone can reach her. It’s the only memory stubborn enough to not slip away in the midst of the war her body is fighting.

I’ve made this all seem like it can be broken down into categories. That’s not how it works at all. The truth?

Every day is the same.

I. Don’t. Know.

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