Friday, April 1, 2011

Relative Dementia

She was already suffering dementia before her more-acute decline.

The nursing home knew she needed help with bathing and eating; that's why she lived there for the last year. But during this week, she seemed less lucid than ever. Her daughters began to worry. She used to recognize them, but by the time they arrived in the emergency room, her words slurred together and her eyes wandered. She mumbled something soft and lovely, but even her daughters couldn't make it out.

It turns out that her fall of 6 weeks ago had created a hematoma in her brain and they needed to do surgery to relieve the pressure.

I was struck by how innocent and happy she seemed. Here's a great-grandmother nearing the end of her life and unaware of the imminent surgery. She sort of pointed to her head, as if to indicate some vague headache. Mostly she smiled at everyone, unable to articulate what she thought or felt.

To me, she seemed very much like my mother during her last six months - vaguely unaware that she wasn't right in her head, but somehow spiritually okay with that. A start of letting go. My heart broke for the daughters who watched week by week as their mother began to slip away.

I'm not sure why I reflect on this. My visit with them was touching, light, crisis-free, and holy. In the midst of the emergency department, time stopped in this room. Maybe that's what showed up in that moment.


Jesus, looking at him, loved him ... Mark 10:21a

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