Water is on my mind. Not the surge of spring rains that make a swamp of my lawn. But the streams and lakes which mirror the flood of emotions set loose by dementia. The storms of this disease feel as vast and deep as the waters of Noah’s flood.
If each caregiver built an ark and invited pairs of friends in, two by two, their boat might still feel empty. People — even many we love — treat the disease like today’s version of leprosy. No one’s getting in that ark unless they’re forced. They prefer to swim alone.
My plan is to make a nice raft. They’re easy to build, and the sun can shine down on each delusion and fit. The raft will be made of all the laughter I’ve shared with my mom: buoyant, silly times when she used the wrong word and somehow spoke better truth. Those moments would be lined up vertically and woven through with dark days which tested our patience and made us strong. The posts of the raft will be lashed with love, hugs looped in and out around each edge. Nothing could hold us more tightly together. What is love if not a tie that binds?
Pontoons go below, to give us hope and keep our heads above water as waves of madness hit. We’ll float and paddle ‘til we’re shoved off to stranger currents. I’ll need a rope to haul myself back when Mom finally gets pulled to the other shore. Charon will throw his hood back and call her to his boat.
I can’t go with her yet. The raft is where I’ll stay. But alone, the waves of life will never feel the same. These treacherous tides have taught me far too much. And that love between the seams is something I won’t travel without.