Having blogged now for more than two years and 100 posts, I worry about repeating myself. But this bears repeating.
As I reported in my last blog, I’ve stopped taking J out for meals and have instead started taking her on errands. The trip to Discount Shoe Warehouse went well. She was able to express preferences for the shoes she wanted and we left with two new pairs.
Next up was a trip to the dollar store. My workplace is collecting supplies for a local school. (Don’t get me started on the need to donate basics like pencils and paper to public schools.) J taught 4th and 5th grade for 12 years before her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, so I thought picking items to donate would engage her. I was wrong. She was fine with being at the dollar store, but she had no interest in shopping for gifts for children she doesn’t know. I don’t think she understood what we were doing.
That said, as often is the case, she clearly enjoyed going out with me and our daughter. Does she know who we are? I think so, but who knows?
She has, however, gotten more loving. She was always a hugger. Now, the hugs come even more freely. And not just to me or our kids or friends who visit. She hugs the staff people at her continuing care retirement community. She hugs her doctor. Given half a chance, she would hug the check-out person at DSW. There is also a sweetness that was hidden before.
Our love has changed. The eros is long gone. J has been unable to be an equal partner for more than seven years. We live separately now and largely have separate lives. Our love has changed, and yet, it is still strong.
As one of my rabbis wrote this week, “Judaism teaches that a soul is never damaged. The body perhaps, the psyche perhaps, but the inner core of goodness that is the soul never. The essence always remains intact.”
As the disease progresses, J’s inner core of goodness is more manifest. Love is the only possible response.