Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
When my mother-in-law was first ill, it was a strange time. Sometimes she’d say unusual things. Things that didn’t quite fit in the conversation. Then she’d have the occasional fall. The doctors told us none of this was odd for a woman in her 80’s. It was however odd to me because she had been so exceptionally precise. Always. Until that time.
And as time went by, I completely lost my sense of certainty over how much she did or didn’t know of what was going on around her. Of what had gone on around her. Although the past seemed quite clear. And sometimes not, like when she called me by her late husband’s name.
Much of that is hindsight because as it happened, I resisted. Often I thought she couldn’t be confused or wrong, so it must be me. And I’d say nothing. Sometimes sitting in silence contemplating my own (in)sanity- the flaws in my own perception. And now sometimes I also wonder if it’s me or if it’s not. How much clarity can anyone be expected to have? And how and when? And when is it normal to forget, to repeat, to misplace, and when and who established what is normal? And for how long is it normal until it’s no longer normal?
And if I stop to think, I’m afraid. Because this house is so big. Because there are three dogs. Because the wine shop I like is 10 minutes away, and I haven’t driven in two years because I let my license expire. I don’t feel I could face the world on my own. And I’m afraid because I always thought that one day everything would make sense, but it doesn’t. And it won’t.