Today I was grateful that the rain came back. Because in the rain, no one sees your tears and I had already used up all the hot water in the shower. Besides I needed out of the house.
Aging is a hard thing, when it is coupled with dementia or Alzheimer’s it’s a much harder thing. When you spend the bulk of your time surrounded by people your own age or younger you can forget the harshness of aging. And then you are confronted with it, in a loved one or friend.
Aging slows us down, sometimes limits what we can participate in or how our voices are heard. These are cruel truths for most people as they age. Through dementia or Alzheimer’s into the mix and the isolation becomes greater.
A dear family friend, whom I haven’t seen in a while, stopped by and I was surprised at how much she had aged. Her movements were that of an older woman, and she carried herself in a careful, guarded manner. When she lifted her cup I noticed a tremor in her hand, and a slight palsy to her neck. She was ever so careful with her words, apologizing for not using the correct term or such.
She had apologized for not coming by sooner, but it was really I who should have said sorry. But I didn’t, not st the time. Instead I wrapped myself in the excuses of working, being busy with work, my illness and just every day life was safe reasons why I hadn’t stopped by to visit her. The truth is, I was afraid. Her aging made me fear what my future might be like and so I hid from her to pretend that aging doesn’t happen.
i also hid from her because her sister has dementia, slow progressing dementia and so she is aware of what she is losing. She once said dementia is like being robbed of your memories and who you basically are. But the truth is, dementia and Alzheimer’s both act as thieves in other ways too.
For these illnesses feed the fears of “normal” people in such a way that we stay away from those who have the diagnosis. This means that our irrational fear rob these people of our compassion, friendship, love and human touch. And some how most of us draw comfort in being “too busy” or “caught up” and thus pretending that this part of aging doesn’t happen.
And so, dear friends, I was grateful for the rain to hide my tears. Tears of shame and regret, at not being there more often. No one was asking much of me, just a few moments of my time but I was too afraid to give that. These tears were mixed with tears of anger and fear. Anger at myself for not being able to see and meet the need for snore human who was being cut off from visits etc. And fear that this would one day be my future.
I was also grateful for the rain because it washed my disgust with myself away and instead watered and helped grow the idea that in order to be more human I must not hid from my fears of human fragility, certainly not under the guise of being busy.