Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Their lost memories are a loss to all

Our second wedding in honor of Sharon Noonan (fourth from the right)

She knew me. For more than three years she knew me and asked about me and called me by name.

Whatever time I had, it was a gift. I had the pleasure of knowing that my mother-in-law really loved me. She told me all the time...often too many times to count. Those words are ringing sweetly in my mind and they comfort me.

It's more than any girlfriend who became a fiance who became a wife could ever ask when her mother-in-law to be was falling inside a cavern of waning memory carved by a disease - Alzheimers, clearly some form of dementia. Whatever name you put on it, it's been heartbreakingly stark to know at this point I'll never hear her say my name again. No matter what that feels like, it can't compare to the bitter ache I have for my husband...and what he has to endure.

Nearly a year ago we were all celebrating. By grace of time and the capacity of her mind then, we were able to share our joy with her. We found a way to have a wedding with his mom. It had to come to her. We did it all over again in Wisconsin a week after the real wedding - the cake, the dress (more travel-friendly version) and a smaller wedding guest list - all of Patrick's family. My parents flew into Milwaukee and met us there.

 Patrick's mom smiled a lot through that day - though I'm sure parts of it were confusing and foggy for her...she knew her siblings and they had time with her. Though they say weddings are a bride's day - there was no mistake on this special day. This day was all for Sharon.

"I Hope You Dance" played on a little digital speaker in that community center where we staged this celebration. Patrick took his mother's hand and they danced. Finally, this was the lonely ache, the missing piece of our wedding in Rochester. I don't think there was a dry eye in that room.

I just can't stop thinking about how happy I was on that day to see that dance.
Patrick & Sharon - Mother and Son Dance

1 comment:

Marren Mcculloch said...

I love you so much, Aunt Leah. Thank you for coming into my life. Into everyone's lives and making it much better. It makes me so sad to know that you didnt get to know or meet Grandma before the disease took her. You would have loved her more than you already do. She would love you too. She still does. Although she doesnt remember new people that well, you are still up there. She remembers you. She remembers all of us. She sees how happy you make Uncle Patrick, Mom, and the rest of us. She loves you in that way, I know for sure. Because she is still a mother and grandmother, who wants the best for her family. And you are more than the best for her family.

I love you very very much. And we miss you very very much.
- you're niece, Marren