We don’t only live in ourselves; we also live in those we love and in those who love us. We live in our relationships with each other – with those to whom we are present…and I don’t mean just present in a physical sense but also in an emotional sense.
In particular it seems to me that mothers and daughters maintain a relationship of ‘presence’ even when they are separated by physical distance. I know I communicated with my mom on a very regular basis, texting almost daily, even though we lived miles apart and I left home more than half my life ago.
I think this is why dementia hurts so much.
It strikes right at the root of our relationship and takes away our usual ability to be present to each other. It forces us to abandon the framework of our previous experiences but live and relate very much in the present moment. It becomes harder to draw on the richness of memory and shared experiences and forces us to live without those linkages to our past.
There will still be moments of joy though and those are worth pursing. A big part of being human is developing who we are through our relationships. I don’t think we can fully become who we are meant to be if we live in complete isolation or try and protect our heart by never exposing it to another. Being truly human is always risky, with opportunities for pain but also for great joy.
After my mom died my sister-in-law posted this to her Facebook page:
“Grief never ends…But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love. [Author unknown]
There is a price to be paid for love and I for one would gladly pay it.