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The Cruelty Of Dementia

A thief, lurking in the shadows of time, waiting for its moment of victory. Carefully creeping further and further into the brain. Whilst you are sleeping it is silently eating away your reality. Each time I look, chunks of you are gone, eroded, consumed by this sick cancer they call dementia, until one day there will be nothing but your shell.

Sat facing you, I am forced to watch your death in slow motion. “Don’t let your tea get cold,” but my throat constricts as I try to smile reassuringly. I watch your Confusion – you pick up the same letter over and over, trying to piece together some logic, some sense – as If your life depended on the answer to a letter from some random posted charity request. For a brief moment I notice a flicker of realisation – the way the sunlight breaks past permanent cloud to shine in through the window onto metal – a stark glimmer of unwanted light, blinding, painful – from which we both recoil.

How ironic that this knowledge and reality I crave for you to cling to is worse, because we somehow both know it is slipping from your hands. Then I have to join in, pretend I don’t notice you noticing that you are no longer you. Don’t see the confusion, instead I turn it into my confusion to make you feel better and hope you aren’t aware that is my aim. Because that would be worse still. It doesn’t matter now; ten minutes has passed and I get another chance to better deal with it as the conversation has begun again. Who sent the letter?

vascular dementia brain
Credit: Alzheimers Association

“It has come a long way – from Halifax” you say.

Who sent the letter?

“This if from a charity, nan.”

“But what about this one?”

“That is a card from your son.”

“No, I don’t know who that is from, I think it’s from one of the neighbours.”

“It was your son saying he loves you nan.” I try

“No, because he doesn’t live near Halifax, it must be for someone else.”

“it’s written from your son, look how nice the words are inside.”

“it’s very strange.”

“Nan let’s have a cup of tea.”

Who sent the letter?

You feel like a burden because today you seem to know how much is lost. But you could never be a burden on me. And as your memories of sunny days fade, and you don’t recall loving me at all, I will paint them brighter. As the thief moves about taking everything you were and are, I will move faster still, replacing and reminding you how much you mean to us all. In this deepening darkness the light of your love and kindness will illuminate forever more.

We will always love you.

alzheimers brain
Credit: wikipedia.org
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