Help Us Remember

“I’m going to say five words in a row,” her neurologist says. “I’ll repeat them three times, then I want you to say the words back to me.”

Mom sits across from him, her face expressing her eagerness to participate in this memory game. It’s the third time she’s taken a memory test of some kind in the past six months. Each time, I’ve felt like I’ve died a little inside. It’s so hard to watch her memory fail her. I hate dementia. I don’t want it to be this way.

“Face…velvet…church…daisy…red.” He says the words clearly and carefully, as if gently sending each fragile word over to her through the air. They’re made of glass. If she doesn’t catch them, they’ll shatter on the ground.

Please, God. Help her remember. 

He repeats the list of words twice more, then it’s Mom’s turn. “Umm…ok…,” she says, sitting up a little straighter, her face determined. I stare at the floor, trying to will the words into her memory…hoping that maybe this time would be different.

After a long pause, she hesitantly says, “Face?” It’s more of a question than a statement. “Yes! Good! Can you remember any others?” the doctor asks, smiling at her. God, he’s so kind to Mom. I like him. Thank you, God, for kind doctors.

Another long pause. Too long. “No…I don’t remember any of the other words,” she responds, disappointed. Velvet, church, daisy, and red didn’t make it. Their shiny shards are scattered on the linoleum. I hate dementia. I don’t want it to be this way.

We both tell her that it’s great that she remembered a word and she seems satisfied with our responses. Mom rebounds very well. I manage not to cry in front of her, so I’m putting this office visit in the “win” column. The death of her memory somehow feels like a slow death inside of me. I hate dementia. I don’t want it to be this way.

We wrap up our time with the doctor and get her next appointment set up. She’s chipper and light-hearted despite the long office visit and the pouring rain. I’m so thankful that this doctor’s visit didn’t make her sad. I drop her off at assisted living with the promise that I’ll be coming by the day after tomorrow. “Great! Maybe we can go to Target?” she asks. “Absolutely!” I say. She waves as she goes inside and I know that by the time she gets to her apartment door, she’ll have forgotten when I said I was coming back. I hate dementia. I don’t want it to be this way.

Please, God. Help her remember.

I don’t want her to forget her words, her stories. I don’t want her to forget her family or her memories. I don’t want her to forget her trials, her triumphs. I don’t want her to forget that God loves her or that he is for her. But the thing I selfishly want to avoid the most…I don’t want her to forget me.

The emotional pain of this particular journey has hit me so hard lately. It’s like being on a treadmill I can’t slow down. I can’t catch my breath. And the strain of the pace is so horribly distracting. My focus narrows to simply surviving and I don’t see God the way I want to.

Do you struggle that way, too? Are you on a painful, relentless treadmill of your own, hoping your pace will keep up?  Do you ever feel like you just can’t find God in the pain? I mean, you know he’s there…you KNOW it. But, man…you can barely breathe.

Please, God. Help us remember.

God, help us remember that you are present. Help us remember that you are good when things feel so bad. Help us remember that you are kind when it’s so hard. Help us remember that you ARE love…that you LOVE us. Help us remember that even if the thing we fear the most happens, you will remember us.

Wrap us up in your arms and remind us that this assignment is temporary. Remind us that even though things now are not the way we want them to be, one day you will make all things new. The treadmill WILL stop. And when it does, we’ll find that you were running with us the whole time.

Please, God. Help us remember.

10 thoughts on “Help Us Remember

  1. Marsha Smith

    I know how hard it must be to have your precious mother‘s memory disappearing right before your eyes. Although neither one of my parents have suffered from dementia, I see it every day at work with the residents that I take care of. How fragile they really are and how frustrating it is for them as well as it is for their family. Tracie, you are a beautiful person inside and out and your mother is too. Know that I am praying for you, her and your family. I am here if you ever need anything and I mean that. I love you sweet friend💗

    • Marsha, you’re just such a blessing. I wish you could know how good it makes me feel to know that you are a part of her care team. What a gift! Love you!

  2. Leslie

    Tracie, I didn’t know you are going through this with your mom. So sorry. We are going through this with Kyle’s mom. I am going to pass this along to him. Sometimes it helps to know others that are in the same boat. I did the doctor visits with Kyle’s mom and I remember that feeling of just willing them to remember. Bless you.

  3. Jeannie Prinsen

    Hi Tracie, I came over to your post from the FMF Facebook page today. So sorry your mom and you are going through this – very very difficult. We really do cling to God’s presence and faithfulness in such difficult times.

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