My mom’s home now for the last six years has been a little room that consists of a bed, chair, two dressers and a bedside table. The world of a person with dementia becomes smaller and smaller as the disease progresses. Memory falls away for the places and people that he or she were once attached to or dearly treasured.
At first it bothered me when mom lost her memory of her beloved lake home, where she lived prior to moving to the care center. She remembers her childhood home well, which is often the case with dementia.
It took me a long while to adjust to her new cramped physical space and call it “home” (she does not, as she frequently tells me “please take me home”.) I went through all the regular grieving stages of loss (still do) of denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance, & depression as each new major change occurred.
Every time she would fall, get lost, need to change rooms etc I seemed to repeat the cycle. I find myself staying in the acceptance stage these days for longer periods of time. It’s not true that “time heals all wounds”, but it certainly helps in lessening the sting and intensity of emotions.
I have come to accept and appreciate my mother for who she was, is, and will become. I recognize the many important lessons I have learned throughout this hard journey, and feel very grateful for the grace God has given us along the way.
Most of all, it has taught me humility. The bottom line is that none of us are perfect, or ever will be this side of heaven. We are all pilgrims on a journey, who are just trying to make our world a little better with the tools we are given.
Some of us are not as equipped to handle the stresses of life as others, for whatever reason. But no matter the reasons or circumstances, we all deserve dignity, respect, and most of all, love.
Amidst the confusion, there still comes days and moments of clarity; and with that comes gratitude. I am grateful for the wisdom and compassion that I have acquired, allowing me to better empathize with others going through struggles of their own. I am grateful for the angelic nurses and aids who patiently care for my mom every day. They lead her, feed her, dress her, and care for her when we can not. Without them, she would not be here with us.
The following is a song that reminds of both my children and my mother. When I leave my kids’ rooms at night after tucking them in, I often reflect on how fast time has gone and I wonder, “When did they get so big?” Some days I wish time would go faster, and other days I wish I could press a pause button to slow the time down.
Similarity, I often leave my mom’s room and think, “How long will I have her?” “Will she remember less the next time I see her?” I reflect on how the time as flown by throughout this journey, and how painfully slow it crawls on certain days.
What both circumstances have in common is the love that floods me as I close their door. I stand there feeling amazed that we have made it this far, and amazed at the amount of gifts that we have been given. And I pray for the continued strength to persevere and appreciate each peak and valley along the way…
When I Leave the Room
Looks like we made it through the day
The moon sighs and I know that we’re okay
I love to watch you drift away
I would come with you but on my knees I’ll stay
Five little fingers holding mine
Into your dreams and lullabyes
There’s nothing more that I can do
But just fall more in love with you
And ask the angel armies to stand by
When I leave the room
I’m gonna fail you
I already have
Ten thousand times
I will fall down flat
You’ll have a seat in the front row
of everything I don’t know
And all I’m trying to be
There will be storms that we come through
We will slay dragons me and you
I’ll always wanna hold you tight
Keep you safe with all my might
So I will leave Jesus next to you
When I leave the room
And you will run ahead
As if you know the way
And I will pray more
Then once you’d have to pray
There will be words we can’t take back
And I’ll be on my knees
When I am old and unsteady
You’ll want me to fight
But I’ll tell you that I’m ready
When there’s nothing left to do
I will still be loving you
Then you’ll fold your fingers into mine
And I will let Jesus hold you tight
When I leave the room