A few days ago was my first time seeing someone in the process of dying. She was not alive nor dead, she was in transition. She had Alzheimer’s, a nasty kind called a “progressive disease”. It progresses in making you dysfunctional, and it steals you from your body and locks you in a moldy basement. Some people do get to escape for a few seconds, I think they have something they feel so hard that their voice in the basement magnifies ten times and breaks a little window through. Like when my aunt’s mother, who also had Alzheimer’s, turned to me when we were sitting face to face in a Christmas dinner and said “I’m happy everyone is here, together”.
Then they get locked again. In some instances of escape, they get lost wandering in the past. When that happens, who are you, really? What about your personal growth of your past years which do not exist anymore in your head? Are you someone of the past but with updates of the future? Are you in two or more places at once?
Then in the latest stages, you’re no one. The past is too slippy to grab and the future too close to see, yet unattainable. All you have is the moment which is passing through you like a soft breeze, you don’t see it coming, nor when it passes. Like a hummingbird stopping on a flower.
Isn’t it better?
Normally, you would think and wait for the hummingbird knowing it’s going to come, you have expectations and when it comes you get so uncomfortably sad knowing it’s going to go away that you forget to look at it with your whole being. Your one foot is in the past, the other in the future, while your hands are struggling to stretch to hold to the present. For people with dementia -, the hummingbird is a miracle, and they get absorbed with looking at it because no other time exists at that moment. It’s just them, the seconds flying through their eyes like ghosts and the hummingbird.
Sounds not that bad, until you need the warmth of memories.
When I saw grandma, she was curled up, her leg bones wrapped in her skin, which now had brown dots all over and looked as if it would turn into ash if you blew at it the way you blow at birthday candles. Her hands were thrown to her left side, her head propped up straight and comforted by the big white pillow. Her being was walking away, it had already left the bottom side of the body. Every time her breath reached out for air, she took another step away from here, and she did so with no worries in her forehead wrinkles. I recently read this passage “If you could hear the sound of the pen of the angels writing your name among those who remember Allah, you’d die of joy” by Ibn Al Qayyim. Gramms was not Muslim, she was catholic, although her face reflected the joy of the sound of the pen of the angels. We all knew. She passed away two days later.