The mind is an amazing thing.
Did you know?
The average human has about 100 billion brain cells. Weighing in at about 3 pounds, the brain is one of the largest organs in the body. It's an electrical circuit board that processes somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 billions bits of information a second.
When it's working at optimum productivity, it's an incredible machine.
When it isn't – it's a heartache.
My father is disappearing.
Though we've not had a *formal* diagnosis of Alzheimer's – I'm pretty sure that's what he has.
And over the course of the last few months especially, he is becoming but a shadow of who he once was.
Nancy Reagan wrote a book about her experiences with her husband, Ronald Reagan, and his battle with Alzheimer's at the end of his life.
She said that it was "a truly long, long goodbye."
Yes, I would agree.
And my heartache lately is not only that my dad is losing himself, it's that he is also forgetting me.
I can't describe the pain.
I'm his first child. And we spent many years together. When I had my sons, the legacy of time and friendship continued. He was included in everything my family did.
All of this is gone now.
When he isn't resentful of my presence – which he often considers an intrusion – then he's suspicious of why I'm there.
He's always concerned that he's going to get into trouble for not obeying "the rules." Not rules, Dad – desperate attempts to help you. Like use your walker ALL THE TIME to prevent the multiple falls you've had over the last few months.
My dad enjoys spending long lengths of time reminiscing. However, many of his "facts" are based in a truth that he has manufactured. His recollections are blurry at best.
He's told me that though he sees me now, he doesn't really remember me – because until recently, "he hadn’t seen me for 40 years."
My heart silently cries, "Dad, I was always there. You were always there. I grew up with you. My sons and I LIVED with you for many summers."
He argues with me that he was NOT home every night, as he thinks he was traveling all the time. He seems to think that it was only my brother in all the home movies. He's not sure who "that other girl" is.
My heart silently cries, "It was ME, Dad. ME. Your daughter…"
Yesterday he talked about family vacations. He said he only remembered our family being there – so he didn't recall my presence.
My heart silently cried, "Dad, I am your family, too."
Sometimes he attaches my name to my face, but I can tell that there are only fleeting moments when he comprehends that I am related to him. That I'm not just the "dark-haired woman who comes to see him from time to time."
He doesn't remember me growing up in his household, nor the years that I worked for him at his business. He doesn't remember things I did with him, nor things he did with my sons growing up. He seems stunned that I remember so much.
"How do you know that?" he often asks.
I say, "Because I was there."
But my heart is silently screaming, "I WAS THERE!!! ME. SHARON.
And though I feel frustrated, I know that underneath that feeling is a deep well of sorrow. A pain that keeps on hurting. And all that I can say and feel in my heart is the agonizing cry…
Dad, remember me?
It is brutal to accept that most of the time, perhaps all of the time, the answer to that question is no. No, he doesn't remember me.
If Alzheimer's is the long, long goodbye – then being the daughter of that dreaded disease is an excruciatingly long, long grief.
It's like having a band-aid stuck to the hair on your arm. And someone is pulling it off s-l-o-w-l-y…one hair at a time.
Every visit is a new puzzle piece missing, a new forgetting, a new denial of the truth of the past, a new stab to my heart.
I cry out…
DAD, REMEMBER ME??
PLEASE remember me, please remember ME.
In some ways, it feels like I'm losing a bit of myself – like part of my identity and worth is being diminished. Like somehow I'm getting sucked into his shadow of obscurity.
And if someday he looks at me and actually says, "Who are you?" – I feel like I might just shrivel up and die.
There is another Someone.
A SOMEONE who was rejected and betrayed and forgotten by the people close to Him. A SOMEONE who longed to be known and loved, but was often ignored and left by the wayside of life. A SOMEONE who actually had his Father turn away when he needed Him the most.
A SOMEONE who suffered all that because He longed for me.
For ME, Sharon.
For me, SHARON.
And lately I have heard His dear and kind and gentle Voice speaking to me.
He knows me. He did before I was born, and He'll know me for eternity. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I think and feel and say and do. He knows where I am at all times.
He leads me during the day, and watches me through the night.
He hovers like a mother hen, and protects me with eagle wings.
My hairs are numbered, my tears are recorded, my heart is cherished…
…and I am NEVER forgotten nor forsaken, NEVER lost nor let go.
I am held tightly by the Hands that formed me.
And when I am crushed by the weight of Alzheimer's, when I am incredibly despondent over the long good-bye, when I am slashed by the wounds of grief…
When my heart silently cries out, "Dad, remember me?"
I hear HIM answer:
"Yes, dear child. I remember YOU."
My dad may not remember me, and that is an earthly cross to bear indeed. But, because of the Someone who bore the cross for me, I have a Heavenly Father who is as close as my heartbeat, as near as a breath.
Do you get this???
In the midst of it all, when we feel forgotten or ignored or dismissed, rejected or betrayed, may we never forget this one incredible fact…
We are GREATLY loved.
I have now seen the One who sees me.
"'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…'" (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)
"How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!" (Psalm 139:17, NLT)
"But now thus says the LORD, he who created you…he who formed you…: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.'" (Isaiah 43:1, ESV)
"O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I'm far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!" (Psalm 139:1-7, NLT)
"'I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.'" (John 10:28, NIV)
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)
Have you felt forgotten lately?
Linked today with:
Joan at SHARING HIS BEAUTY
Michelle at HEAR IT ON SUNDAY, USE IT ON MONDAY
Hazel at TELL ME A TRUE STORY
Darlene at TITUS 2SDAY
Jen at UNITE
Tracy at WINSOME WEDNESDAY
Rachel at WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS
Shari at WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY
Laura at FAITH FILLED FRIDAY
Wanda at FRIDAY FIVE FELLOWSHIP
Charlotte at SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS
Barbie at WEEKEND BREW
BLOG ="Blessedly Leaning On God!"