THE BLOG

Mother's Day -- Damn You Dementia

05/10/2015 08:33 am ET | Updated May 10, 2016

I cried -- uncontrollably -- watching Saturday Night Live. Yes. Really. Reese Witherspoon introduced her mother as the love of her life and I missed my mother so much. I cried and cried. But my mother is alive -- sort of. She has been suffering from dementia for a decade now and, like the AARP commercial, our roles completely switched -- my now taking care of her as she has regressed in her abilities to a young infant, as opposed to her taking care of me.

My mother was my unconditional lover. Sheryl Sandberg had recently written about David that way. That was my Mom. But, tonight made me realize that one of the tragedies of memory loss is that your loved one leaves you but you are deprived of the opportunity to mourn. I cannot mourn my mother alive. Even in her comprised state, I don't want her to leave me. I don't want to act like she has died. But her brain has and I miss her and I wish she was with me to celebrate Mother's Day. I wish she was with me to enjoy and cherish her now adult grandchildren, to guide me with my life, to tell me unconditionally how special I am to her. But that relationship is gone and I did not get the chance to say goodbye or acknowledge the transition. Damn you dementia. My Mom left and you never let me stop to say good-bye. You deprived me of the natural goodbye -- the period of mourning -- when a loved one dies.

I will spend Mother's Day with my Mom. I will cherish her smile that beams below her confused, opaque eyes because somewhere deep, deep down I know she knows me. I know she loves me. But, along with the many others who are dealing with elderly parents with memory loss, I will continue with my heart breaking in purgatory -- between my mother's life and death. Unable to be friends with her as if she were truly alive, unable to mourn her with my whole heart and soul in death and unable to let her go as long as she lives and smiles when I enter her room.

More:

Dementia Aging