by Suz

Disclaimer - no names are named, but they belong to Paramount anyway.

I'd really like some feedback...


You could say that we have a reversal of the stereotypical roles - so often it seems as if I'm the mother and *she's* the child.

After a particularly gruelling exercise session she'll start crying and, hating herself for being so weak, she hides from me. Last week I found her on the floor of the closet. When I find her like that I pull her to me and hold her. Not wanting to, she nonetheless returns my hug.

I know that she's terrified by her lack of control and wants to show that she's still strong. She *is* strong, and in my opinion always will be. What she lost a long time ago was her vibrancy, her celebration of life.

Sometimes, when she's at her lowest, she'll mourn all the things she did and the woman she became. I don't know the specific incidents - I wasn't there so I can't fully understand the emotional consequences of any decisions she made. But I see how it affects her now. I can't even judge whether or not she would have reacted this way without the illness; for all I know the illness is causing her to act like this and it's not how she really feels.

And yet...there are times I remember as a child, when I would find her just staring out of the window. I once asked what she was looking at and she merely gave me a tired smile before murmuring, "The past."

It used to baffle me.

The hardest times are when she's back to her old self again. We can have deep, meaningful conversations just like we used to. Politics, life, men, length, girth. The important things, obviously.

In those moments it's so easy to believe that she hasn't changed, that she won't suddenly withdraw and go silent or start laughing for absolutely no reason. She always does, I *know* that. Still, there is that part of me that likes to hide behind ignorance, that is surprised when it happens and then instantly berates itself for ever getting any hopes up.

It's awful thinking like that, hoping that she'll change again so she'll be 'normal'. It's unbelievably politically incorrect. Yet it's part of our nature. We always want the best for the ones we love, and if that 'happens' to make our own lives easier, who are we to argue?

Justification is barely necessary.

He visited again yesterday; he'd visit every day if he could. When he first started I wondered why he kept seeing her so often. She always pretends that she's not aware of his presence and stares at the wall with an expression of boredom on her face. It took me a while to see it, but now I know why.

He tried to tell me, once, who he was. I knew of course - I'm not stupid. I prevented him from saying the words because it's been so obvious to me for so long that if he hadn't been bothered or not had the courage to tell me before then it really wasn't worth it.

Surprised was definitely what he was feeling when he realised I already knew. He thought I'd be furious. I wish I was, but I didn't inherit my mother's temper. I know I absolutely have the right to be angry at both of them because it really could have worked if both had tried at the same time. But I'm not. I look after my mother and I talk with him and understand more about them each time I do.

Stories are his forte. He told me one once in the presence of my mother. She was doing her usual of ignoring him and finding the beige wall fascinating. Part-way through the story she spoke.

"Get out."

He didn't move, and then I realised that she was talking to me. I was stunned and quickly, if shakily, left the room. When the door hissed shut behind me the shouting started. My mother's did, in any case. From what I could tell he kept his low, neutral, which seemed to infuriate her even more.

I didn't see him for a month after that and had to admit that I'd been getting used to him being around. I tried to contact him and although he only spoke to me briefly over a communications console, I did ask him why the story had provoked such a strong response from her. Just like mother, he was good at giving ambigious answers.

"Memories of a disagreement."

A disgreement over what? I don't know yet, but I'm determined to find out what he meant eventually.

He turned up two weeks later with no warning, no scheduled time. I opened the door and he was just there. We didn't speak, didn't say a word. He walked into the room where my mother sat in her chair and held her hand.

She didn't look at him.

I moved away from the room, allowing the door to close and separate me from them. I don't know if they spoke, I don't even know if she'd know what he was saying anyway. But I hope that at the very least they become friends again, because I know there was a time when he could make her smile.


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