This has been just a piece of the journey of our life together, my Mother and me; one chapter in her life, one chapter in my life.
Dementia is only one chapter. It is not the chapter about her being a school teacher or the chapter about her being a world traveler. It is not the chapter about my time as a college student or my time as a young mother. We've had common chapters before: we lived together for eighteen years, she was my Girl Scout leader, she is my sons' grandmother. Her telling of these stories would be as different as my telling of these tales. And so it is now.
This part of her story and this part of my story, is all about her trip through dementia.
We have been through the "valley of the shadow of death". The twists and turns, dark corners, and dead end side canyons. Those folks at the top of the canyon, looking down, they can't always see us, they can't always yell down encouragement and directions. We cannot always see the footprints of those who have traveled this way before us, it is so dark. We cannot see the light of the sky because this canyon is so dark and deep, and full of shadows. We cannot tell false side canyons from the way out, places where we may become lost. The side walls are so steep, so unclimbable, so slippery, we had to persevere.
On her trip through dementia I had to walk beside her.
Sometimes I could not see her beside me. Sometime she didn't know that I was beside her. Many times, in her demented anger, she did not want me on this journey with her, many times she tried to push me away, in her fierce independence she wanted to do it her way and alone. But I had to walk beside her, to the end.
Now that our journey together has ended, as we come out of the dark canyon, our paths will diverge, she will go her way and I will go mine.
Just as our paths diverged when I left home to go away to college.
This chapter of our life together is over.
Recommended reading: "Tears in God's Bottle" by Wayne and Ann Ewing