One morning you will find that it is 17 weeks later and you are googling images of an Alzheimers brain split down the middle.
Your eyes will watch an autopsy on youtube.
Your mind will try to process and retain the fact that a human brain resembles a bowl of cooked pasta bake that has been left in the back of a fridge - a heavy plate of cold ham on top - and consequently it has formed a brawn of its own volition.
Pressed Pigs Head.
Our Father who art in Wexford made it for us as children in Carne.
Your ears will hear the voiceover mention that the weight of a healthy brain is approx 3 lbs. and that it feels like a jelly just about to set, firm but with a little give.
Your mind will try to process and retain the fact that what the Scientist is holding in his blue - gloved hands is the piece of pink meat that controls the entire body, the personality, the conscious and sub conscious.
You will remember the theatre sister with a lisp announce at Sunday lunch that cutting into a fat person is like “thlicing roath pork”
Never seen so much meat without gravy.
You will notice that as he cuts it with a large silver knife he exerts the same technique and force as a Turkish man slicing a head of red cabbage to dress a kebab.
You will notice and retain that an Alzheimers brain resembles a raw cauliflower that has rolled to the deepest darkest corner of the vegetable press
and when you are finally alerted by its decaying odour and extract it on your knees - seeing shriveled florettes and the shrunken stalk - you will remember the desiccated brain,
the hippocampus reduced, as have the frontal and temporal lobes,
and they are covered with sticky blobs of plaque,
and tangled neurons that have shut down and now resemble the creeping fluffy fur on a jar of strawberry jam that has been sealed under a double circle of greaseproof paper and an elastic band while it is still warm.
You will remind yourself that you tell people the difference between vascular and alzheimers dementia the former being a kink in a bicycle tube,
a narrowing of arteries carrying blood and oxygen to the brain,
like standing on a hosepipe, and then stepping off,
and that the latter is a layer of limescale building up on a kettle element,
and the sticky proteins shutting down the areas of the brain one by one,
lights winking out on a Christmas tree.
And that it is a bastard.
You will watch a man at a bar order another afternoon round
and his words will hover in the air like dust motes in sunlight,
about nobody knowing enough about this fucker of a disease,
and you will raise your glass and think, actually he’s wrong.
You know enough.
You will think to yourself
- as you watch the scientist place the healthy and diseased brains together to compare -
this was in my Mothers head
and your hands will fumble for a lighter,
the soft grey ash coating the keyboard like a dusting of icing sugar.
Comparisons are odious.
You will remember not the woman she became but the woman she was.
You will recall before the days of silence and immobility,
nappies and beakers, enemas and hoists,
……….. the days of dancing and swimming,
of baking and jiving and waltzing at weddings,
the days of picnics and beaches and rough threadbare towels
filled with sand on burnt shoulders,
the heels of the loaf pressed back into the wax packets to keep the salad sandwiches fresh,
the tartan blankets on springy warm grasses while the All Ireland played from the car radio,
the door open and your Da roasting in the heat under a soft canvas cap,
tar bubbling on roads and chewing gum and lollipop sticks
and cabarets with casio organs and a line of dimpled neck folds dripping beads of sweat
onto a silver chain embedded into fat like a cheesewire
as the sweltering man sang about 4 in the morning……
And the smiling image of Siobhán…………………………
- a gentle woman with the strength of an Amazonian,
a woman who had the tremendous effort of will to try to disguise the fragmenting of her personae , and the illness that became a prism refracting death into a spectrum of its parts -
…………………………will wave to you from a far away curtained room,
across a divide that is as vast as it is minuscule,
misty and voile like, pale blue,
out at the edges where the lines soften and blur,
she will grin like a Chesire cat and wave both her arms in a spontaneous uncharacteristic movement as if to hammer home the point ,
I’m alright, I’m ok, I’m happy, do it, write it, tell it, make me proud,
and you will light candles at her image and play her jazz and tell her secrets and say goodnight and good morning and know that she is as tangible and accessible to you now as she never was in the bastard chair.
And that there will be no new stories of Siobhán, only the ones you already have, and so you will tell them.
And She will reclaim herself,
And you will feel vindicated, and released.
MDM June 6, 2015