14 March 2011

When Dementia Strikes...

If I am blessed with a long enough life, it is not unreasonable to expect that my mind will start to go at some point. I must say I fear this possibility -- more tonight than ever.

I've seen enough Alzheimer's patients to know that it is not immediate. Nor is it linear. Nor is it predictable.

I imagine that when it comes, it will be like driving through a foggy West Virginia night, with the peaks all around shrouded in misty white cloaks. Sometimes the fog thickens; sometimes it clears. Sometimes you can see for miles; sometimes you can't even see the semi in the oncoming lane until it is almost too late (and then you realize you were staring down death's maw and your breath comes in cold, ragged gasps until you can force yourself to calm down).

The most frightening thing about it is that I will lose control of everything -- and particularly the strength of those sweet memories that have so much power over the mundane, soulkilling concerns of my life. For instance, my little boy, one year old and happy, curled up on my lap, cooing and playing with the tiny plastic spoon from which he tasted his first ice cream tonight. Or, again, the deep blue eyes of my beautiful lover, offering me solace after a long, frustrating day of having my will forcibly bent to conform to that of the machine in which I am a mere cog.

Those moments of warmth, comfort, and peace will be first dimmed, then lost, by the enveloping mist, when dementia strikes. And that is a loss I fear more than any earthly pain -- because without those memories, life will be much harder to make sense of.

Yet, even in the face of this possibility, I must, like Job, confess my Creator's supremacy: "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him..."

But also like Job, unless I become much more mature in the few years I have remaining on this terrestrial ball, I will also plead on my own behalf: "Nevertheless, I will argue my ways before Him."

Perhaps I will undergo the loss anyway. But I have faith that regardless of what may happen to me on this plane, if I hold fast to my true and lasting hope, the misty shroud will one day be swept away by a clean and everlasting Light. And to even glimpse such a Light, I would give my warmest, most comforting memories in a heartbeat.

1 comment:

C.D. Atkinson said...

This is terrifying. And beautiful.

Thank you.