Originally published December 26, 2012
Christmas. A time of memories, a time of joy, and a time of sadness. As magical as it all seems it often reminds us of those who cannot be with us for any number of reasons; sometimes the reason is permanent. Today the curtain pulled back for me, just a bit, but enough to give me some small joy and to wonder yet again at the marvels of the human mind.
Most of my fans are aware by now that I am a caregiver for my husband who has vascular dementia. The diagnosis was given some time ago now. I believe it was early in 2011 followed by a major change in his capacity in May of the same year. Our lives have been quite different and at least some part of that is recorded in my little book, Who I Am Yesterday.
In that book I describe some of the ways I have learned to cope. There are also blogs on this site that try to explain that we do still have moments that can be enjoyed, times when things are, well, almost normal and days when it is trying. Today was beyond normal; it was magical.
We have a few Christmas CDs that we have always loved. Boston Pops, a Jazz version of some favorites, a few chorales and then there is the Nutcracker. He was having trouble following a few things and I managed to get his hearing aids in; and to his amazement he realized how different things did sound. I asked him if he remembered taking me to the Nutcracker all those years ago. His immediate response was yes.
Not too long after that he came to me and said he didn’t know how to explain it but he knew he had taken me to see the Nutcracker but couldn’t remember actually doing it. Did I understand? I told him I thought I did. He remembered he was supposed to remember; or there was knowledge of doing something, but not quite feeling it. He agreed and, as an experiment, we started to take a bit of a walk down memory lane. I started with when we met and in a few paragraphs brought us up to date. He said, “I remember that it happened, but I don’t remember it happening. Why can’t I remember?” I explained that just before we visited Vancouver Island (yes, I remember) the doctor had him take a test (yes, I remember that too) and it seems that you are losing some of your memory. “Oh. But do you still want to be with me?”
“Are you sure?”
How incredibly fascinating that the human mind can develop these pathways where one type of clue, one piece of “connection” can open a path, however narrow, to the pages in our minds. I think one of the reasons that I do find our life an adventure is because I am always discovering something new about how the mind works. Some secret little door that I did not see before.
Our conversation continued for some time. There were other things he remembered, even if the details did not come through. For a good portion of the day we touched the past – and it was beautiful. Yes, I believe in Christmas miracles. I really do.