by Veronica Montes
Read her story Lana Gets Some Sleep here.
I wrote “Lana Gets Some Sleep” after my mom’s long bout with multiple sclerosis left her with no ability to move her hands, arms, or legs. We lifted her into a hospital bed in the room across the hall from ours, and that is where she remained for the last three years of her life. Taking care of Mom when she was in a wheelchair and still retained some mobility was one thing—I had a number of tricks for that—but caring for her in bed required next-level skills. I’m so grateful to the professional caregivers who helped teach me how to make the best of our situation.
It was the honor of my life to do this work, but my regret is this: aspects of Mom’s care required a clinical disassociation entirely separate from my identity as a daughter. We didn’t talk about it, but she must have felt much the same. To make it through those moments—and there were so many—I couldn’t be her daughter, and she couldn’t be my mom. Right or wrong, this is how we protected ourselves from becoming overwhelmed. If I’m not making sense, so be it. It was one wild ride, after all.
I felt so much resistance to the way our relationship was evolving, and I wasted time imagining elaborate and decidedly unhelpful if-only scenarios. Eventually I realized the futility of that path and I turned, of course, to writing. Though I couldn’t articulate it in the moment, I know now that I hoped to sort through what I was feeling and find, if I could, something to help guide us through this new, final leg of our journey together. And it worked. Writing about the mother/daughter duo in “Lana Gets Some Sleep” taught me that Mom and I could make our way forward simply by turning back. Back to the beginning, where she held my body inside her own, and we took our breaths together.
Veronica Montes is the author of the award-winning chapbook The Conquered Sits at the Bus Stop, Waiting (Black Lawrence Press) and Benedicta Takes Wing & Other Stories (Philippine American Literary House). Her second chapbook, I’m Not Lost, is forthcoming from Ethel. Veronica’s fiction has been published in many journals including Wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, jmww, Bamboo Ridge, and CHEAP POP.