I Am Nothing

The relationship I have always cherished most in my life - the relationship with my father - is now non-existent.  He does not know me.  He does not recognize my face. He does not recognize my voice.  He does not recognize my name.  And for the first time ever, no amount of recounting of tales, vivid descriptions, or intimate details of our family life are able to jog his memory.

I am a blank spot to him.  He looks at me almost suspiciously; as if he is wary of this peculiar stranger.  Clearly, I make him uncomfortable.  That's the worst part.  He is wondering, "Who is this woman?  Why is she here? Why is she taking me to lunch? How does she know where to go?  How does she know where I live?   How does she know so much about me?"  I have spent the past five years trying to put him at ease and it has reached the point where I am no longer successful in this endeavor. He is now troubled by my presence.

He made no attempt to lift his fork today; I fed him.  He made no attempt to drink; I brought the glass to his lips.  He could not put words together to speak; I did all the talking.  There was no interaction; I might as well have been speaking Russian. Outwardly, I tried to give the appearance that everything was perfectly normal. Inwardly, I was horrified.  I don't know this man.  I am unaccustomed to this awkward silence.  I am unaccustomed to failing in my attempt to cajole him into himself again.  I want to run away and get the hell out of there, but I can't do that.  I have to stay and ride it out.  I want to scream.  I want to cry.  I want my dad back.

I always felt like I was special to him.  (Whether I really was or not is entirely inconsequential.)  I always felt like I had a privileged connection to the most important man on earth, and being important to the most important man on earth made ME important.  His love and approval meant everything.  My identity was largely defined by this father/daughter relationship; he made me feel worthwhile. Now, all of that is gone.  I mean no more to him than a stranger on the street.  What am I if I don't matter to him anymore?  I am nothing.

If he were dead, I don't think this would be quite so devastating.  But the fact that he is sitting before me - the fact that my living, breathing father looks me in the eye and does not have any memory of me is indescribably painful.  The fact that my father will spend the rest of his life not knowing who I am is crushing.  The fact that my entire life has been effectively erased from his mind is heartbreaking.

I know life goes on.  I know that to lament this loss is futile.  I never expected to be so deeply affected by something I knew full well was coming, but for some reason my armor of Realistic Rational Acceptance - the impenetrable armor that served me so well dealing with Mom's demise - has suddenly failed me.  The same cold, hard logic which once afforded me the luxury of being dispassionate has been rendered useless.  Sadness now permeates every thought.

I know the memories of life with Dad will live on in my mind, but somehow that isn't good enough.  Knowing he doesn't remember any of it makes those memories seem pointless.  It's almost unbearable - as though I have no right to try to find joy in the past when he cannot.  And frankly, knowing my history doesn't exist for him, how could I possibly find joy in it anyway?  

I miss my dad.  I miss him so very much.

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