Gone are the days when Dorothy and I would plan ahead, together, for our next shared adventure, be it home and family related or, in later years, a wider travel experience. Gone, too, are the times when we could share remembrances of those times – all those shared years, together.
Dorothy’s ability to recall slid silently away some years ago and now totally eludes her, but those earlier times shaped both of us in our behaviour and attitude to others, and still does, now in our dramatically different lives. But that doesn’t preclude my solitary recall of those times, nor does it diminish their importance, it simply means I can’t re-share them with Dorothy, even though she’s still with me, but apart. And they are no less real, I can still relish and savour those earlier together times.
We each move on in our lives in our own way, and with every breath we try to be masters of our thoughts, our actions, and reactions. What we do and say is who we are and affects everyone we encounter – it’s what makes us unique and, to varying degrees, precious to each other. The way I personally respond to the swings and roundabouts of life is conditioned by all those earlier shared experiences, not only with Dorothy, but with each and all of our family and friends, those we worked with and, in our case, prayed with. That journey with its ups and downs was, and still is, often burdened with the baggage of past mistakes, of wrong decisions, of attitudes, behaviours, or of things done or not done.
Dorothy’s Alzheimer’s journey is not encumbered by that ‘previous life’ load, she is free to feel only the present and to savour, or otherwise, each moment just as it is. Such acceptance of ‘now’ should help me to savour how precious this current time can be, but reality confirms that not every moment is joyful, especially for those of us who are carers or separated from our loved ‘other half’.
To help retain my sanity I have learnt to take some time out, to stop and grab hold of my swirling stupid mind, to reflect quietly and to pray to God and to hold on to my Christian belief of a caring deity. Insecure, imperfect, and uncertain as I am, it remains an absolutely essential, positive, and precious activity which provides me with solace and strength to face the next moments, the next day. And my experience of adversity is as nothing compared to the afflictions of so many others, now exacerbated by the current, awful consequences of the coronavirus.
So, does my belief help me, and Dorothy? Yes, it does. Even when I think, like so many others before me, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”. The enigma of humankind! Perhaps that’s answered in part by recognising that my belief engenders grace which empowers people to respond with care and service, known as love; and I know, “God is Love”, and that love opens doors, never slams them shut….