Several weeks ago I took out my camera. As I looked through the images on the memory card, I realized that there were pictures on there taken over the past two years. I found myself shifting quickly from one frame to the next looking for pictures of Mom. With each new snapshot I study her face, looking for signs. Signs that she was there. That she realized who we were. That she understood what was going on. At what point did the demon we know as dementia take her?
I feel trapped in this lonely space where I find myself missing her so much, wishing for just one more conversation where I could unload my worries and get that great consoling understanding and advice. At the same time I find myself feeling guilty for missing her and grateful because she is still here. I can still hear her sweet voice. I can hug her. I can still interact with her silly, funny personality even when she doesn’t know who I am. One benefit in all this sadness is that I often hear from her how awesome her daughter, Teresa, is and how much I will like her when I meet her. It’s a whole new insight into how my Mom feels about me that I might not have quite understood in normal circumstances.
It’s hard for me when I’m a stranger to her, but I much prefer it to the moments–the brief flashes–when she realized exactly what is going on. I see the fear in her eyes. I hear the grief in her voice as she grapples to understand what is happening to her. It wrecks me.
I can always tell when she is somewhere in the middle. The nervous laughter trying to mask her confusion. Prattling on about everything, and nothing. Unable to sit still. Pacing. I love her. I miss her. I’m so sad for her. I’m in awe of her bravery & strength. I’m proud to be her daughter.