18 November 2013
Simply and Only
I wrote a brief post not long ago about my mother's declining health. Since then, she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, or some other similar neurodegenerative condition. It has been a difficult autumn for all of us, especially and of course, for my mother and father, for whom this suffering is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute experience.
The utter unfairness of dementia takes my breath away. The seeming annihilation of dignity and selfhood feels like a punch in the stomach. The contradiction -- the desire to be present juxtaposed against the desire to run and hide -- is painful and confusing.
And everything is happening so fast. We have no time to get used to any new normal, no time to make adjustments to our expectations. There can be no expectations anymore.
What is left for us, in this moment, before things are as bad as they have the potential to get, while my mother is both suffering the effects of dementia and painfully aware that everything is going wrong?
Perhaps the lesson of dementia is that what we are left with is what is at the core of every relationship we have. What we are left with is learning that dignity is not ability, or composure, or mental quickness, or eloquence, or any of the things that we miss in the person we love who suffers from dementia. What we are left with is simply and only being present, without any agenda or purpose or need.
What would happen if we were present to everyone in our lives this way, not for any other purpose but to show the depth of love we feel?
I have no idea what I am talking about. I am sad, and scared, and I want my mother.
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