Edit: I've been so wiped out lately that I didn't take time to respond to all the supportive comments here. Thank you all so much for that! Also, the day after I posted this, Grandma called to ask "Did I seem extra confused yesterday? I am really confused about it." I told her she'd been mixed up about me, and she said that she was sorry (it's heartbreaking that she apologized...) and she knew I was her "sweet Heidi." It was very uplifting and relieving, of course, to know that there are still ins along with the outs. The Birdy and I had a great visit with her Sunday for her 84th birthday.
I'm so full of rage at this fucking disease that is eating a hole in my Grandma's brain that I want to smash something. I want to hit and kick and scream and bite and sob.
It's beyond the fact that she confuses me with my second cousin; apparently the concept of my very existence has been eaten by the black hole. It was fucking creepy. She was calling me Laura again, and I'd correct her. She looked at me like, "Oh, OK whatever..." That's been the pattern. But then yesterday she seemed to really hear me, and she was so confused. Demanded to know why no one had explained to her who I was, that V had had a daughter. She wanted to know who was my Daddy and why I wasn't brought up by my Mommy and Daddy and was a secret all these years. I told her, "Grandma, you've forgotten, and it's OK, but I have been around. Mom and Dad and L'Bro and me were all a family together until Mom and Dad divorced. I was your first grandchild. Here, this picture? This is me."
She looked at me skeptical, said, "No, that's V." I joked that I was flattered but that was me, and "This baby picture? that's me too." "Well, you were very pretty... Still are...haha." Then she'd get it and it would click that her daughter had a daughter and I'd feel like I had her back for just a second, and then she'd ask all over again who was my mom and be shocked when I said it was V. She'd be playing with Molly and ask, "Now, is she related to me somehow?" At one point she said "Well, whatever. It's nice to meet you" and laughed and I was so mad at her I had to choke back tears.
Of course, I realized even in the moment I wasn't mad at her but at this stupid disease. On the drive home I was sulky and broody and thinking this is what we've evolved into? Creatures with a body that outlasts the mind? No thanks, I think we should just die of the elements or some natural primal death. Very positive loving thoughts, these.
It just hurts me so bad I just can't frame it in words. Seems like watching her memory of me leaving and the absence of my mom are somehow compounding each other. I think if she'd see me and mom together she'd understand. I thought of trying to gather family photos. There all scattered; mom's side of the family's never been as careful of photos as my dad's is. I don't know if it'd help though. The photos she has just confuse her.
I feel like a selfish child, but it really breaks my heart that no one else has just vanished from her brain. I'm just gone, like I was never there. That's the only severe symptom she has. Everything else is just dotty cute old lady stuff. What day is it? Flipping names but essentially knowing who's there. But I'm erased. It's impossible and also stupid to even try not to take it personally. I know rationally that it's just random nerve synapses missing connections, but how can I not feel heartbroken about it? I'm ashamed that I'm angry even though I know this is biological, this is human, this is life. I'm embarassed that I'm thinking only of myself here, that here is the end of my post and I'm just now mentioning the look in her eyes when she realized how much this must hurt me if I was her granddaughter. She looked so sad to be hurting me, so disappointed in herself. That was the other time I had to swallow tears: she said "I'm sorry," so sadly, looking into my eyes and searching me.