All Alone

‘Hello, I hope you do not mind me calling you, but I have dementia’.

That struck me hard and I stopped all that I was doing and waited for the next words. ‘Please help me as I do not know how to solve my problem. I used to be able to fix this and do that..I was really good at what I did and many reached out to me because I was the only person able to do this..’ I listened and tried really hard to help you, making a huge effort not to show my cracked tone of voice, because, yes, you broke my heart. You knew so well that there was no cure and I had to comfort you..I had to try really hard. How? For me, there are a few solutions, but the one greatest solution I have is to resort to prayer. Maybe, some of you do not agree, but for me, asking God to help us is what we really can do. ‘ Ask Mary to give you peace in your heart and the ability to face each and every day. I too will pray for you’. This person is older than me and I asked if religion was part of life and the answer was yes so I went ahead.

So what if this person is an atheist? Well, I will still talk about prayer because that is one thing that no one can take away from me and the solace I find in prayer is nowhere else to be found.

Oh, how many times I have tried to find peace of mind through people, yet I always come to a brick wall. Facing dementia is like facing a tsunami coming straight at you. How can you avoid it?

You cannot. You have to embrace it and go with it. Ha ha, says the expert. Not in the least and I hope I will never know what it is like. However, having faced illness myself I can say that my only true solace was leaving everything in the hands of God.

Mum went through this tsunami and lost everything she had physically, mentally. Yet, her inner heart remained there and when I held her hand and said the rosary with her in her last three days, she lay there in peace, looking at me calmly. I prayed so much for her to find that peace and I know for certain that God granted this for me, for her. She walked the passion of the Lord, she walked the hill of Golgotha, and she walked suffering and pain. And so too does this person over the phone. How can you tell a drowning person that everything is going to be alright? No, you cannot and it is not fair to do so. What you can do is ask for peace to enter that person’s heart and calm the fears and severe anxiety. A person with dementia becomes isolated and alone and only God can enter his or her heart – no one else can do that.

I rediscovered this after a brief stay in hospital during Holy Week. Choking on a bone, I could only look at Jesus on the Cross and ask for help. Was death at my door? Yes, it would have been if it weren’t for the excellent doctors in the ENT ward. I asked myself ‘is this it? Am I going to die now, right now?’ I hung on tight to my husband, but he couldnt do anything..but yes he could and he did. He prayed, I prayed and others prayed. Yet, at the end of the day, it was Jesus on the Cross who held me and gave me hope. So too, those with dementia. Leave it all in the hands of God. Death is to be feared. Yet, death is the start of eternal life. Going over that threshold is terrifying and only He knows when it is time. It wasnt my time yet…but my mother had to face that time. This person on the phone also has to face that time.

Yes, it can be very, very lonely in that place.

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