I have a plan. Do you have any idea how odd those words sound in my head, coming from my mouth? Thanks to a gentle nudge from Cheryl, I’m going to try to exorcise a pinch of guilt this Friday by making the long drive up to Chattahoochee to see my mom.

Let it be known: this doesn’t make me a good son. A good son wouldn’t suffer from mixed feelings. Don’t get me wrong, he’d have them – but they wouldn’t torment him. You see, I don’t want to go. A piece of my soul leaches away every time I go. It’s that kind of place, a place without hope. Resignation reigns… learned hopelessness. It’s like a low-income nursing home for the young and old alike, only there’s nothing wrong with their bodies – other than neglect (mostly self-inflicted). It has that same institutional smell, a smell that greets you before the first hello – a smell that seems to weep: “we’ve given up.”

I try to bring a smile with me, but it’s hard, and I wonder if she’s perceptive enough to see the effort it takes. It isn’t much of a smile if you have to try. Maybe you’re wondering why I’d go at all. Sorrow and hopelessness are poor companions. It’s ok to ask. I ask myself every time I go. I hope trying shows her one thing, even if it isn’t reassurance: love.

Someone said love conquers all, but I’ll wager they didn’t say it from an institution for the lost. It’s still something though, and it’s the only thing I have in me to give. So I’m going.

I just wish it was enough.