today i took my mother to her eye surgery. she has been diabetic for over 20 years and as a complication she has been having retinopathy. so today was her second in a series of laser surgeries to correct problems with blood vessels in her retinas.

my brother the medical student says "if this is happening in her eyes it is also happening in her kidneys and her brain."

the first surgery was terribly painful and so the doctor prescribed a stronger drug this time. darvocet plus acetominophen. also lorazepam to calm her down. none of it worked. she passed out today in her chair during the surgery. when she came to they wheeled her to a recovery room where she could lie down, and she spent the rest of her time there fighting her need to vomit.

people say i have a soothing presence and i did my best today and i felt so goddamn helpless. i babbled inanely where i generally am more quiet; my mother is the talker. but i told her about "berkeley time" and spongebob squarepants (huh? where did that come from) and anything else silly and faraway i could think of...and i fessed up to childhood naughtiness

(once upon a time i wanted to get my younger brother in trouble and i got it in my head that if my mom thought he was cutting his own hair then she would be angry with him. his hair was about the same color as my barbie dolls--i hated them--so i took one of the dolls and my mom's kitchen shears into his bed and cut some of the hair off and scattered it around his pillow. i knew she would be coming around to make our beds soon so i just waited. awhile later i heard her stomping down the stairs. my brother having no idea what's coming i thought here we go..this is gonna be great! my mom: "i want to ask you something. have you been cutting amy's barbie doll's hair in your bed?!" she never knew until today...)

you get to a certain point in life when you realize your parents are just people. i mean you really get that, you internalize it. you find away to wrap yourself around that fact and then you can forgive them for a lot of fucked up shit. then later on you get to a point when you realize that it's time to start taking care of them. that point came a lot earlier with my mom than i expected it to.

i remember when i was six my grandma came to live with us during the last six months of her life. cancer really fucking sucks, bad bad way to go out. but we turned the family room into her room, brought in a hospital bed, etc. she always wanted me and my brother to go hang out with her so she would intentionally drop things under her bed. wrapped candies and small change. we would crawl around under there talking to her and thinking we found the promised land.

and i was so little then but i remember watching my mom mothering her own mom. and it hit me what a strange thing that was. i was little and my mom was everything to me, she was strong and she was everything and i could not imagine ever needing to take care of her, ever even being capable of that. i watched her taking care of her mother and i couldn't imagine me being grown up, or her being old and failing.

and then today i drove her home with her big dark sunglasses against her small pale face and she tried to smile and say she was okay and she wasn't and she wasn't and i grabbed the wheel so fucking hard and thought god DAMN it if i could go through this instead of her i would in a fucking heartbeat and i want to scream but i can't because this is about her not about me and it doesn't really matter how i feel right now just that i get her home safe and just say something say something to take her mind out of this so i talk about stupid things, stupid memories. and i thought what happens next time and next next next when i am not here when i am billions of miles away and she doesn't want to ask my dad to miss work and someone else will drive her but then she will tell them she is fine even though she isn't and they will go home and she will be here alone, asleep on the couch under two blankets sick and small and hurting and afraid like now except all alone.

goddamn it.