I finished reading a beautiful novel today about a lady who was diagnosed with Dementia and began to forget her daily routine, followed by people she knew well, then eventually her own family. The beauty of the story lay in its reminder of the power of the eternal present, in what is real, fresh and true, in the here and now. Most of all, it’s a story about enduring love even as bodies and minds disintegrate and fade away.
Out of the many beautiful quotes, this one is my favourite. It’s deeply poignant and sad on a human level but speaks of the deeper truth behind all feelings and experiences. The lady had forgotten who her husband was, the person she married many years earlier, who had tried hard to support her throughout her devastating diagnosis and rapid deterioration:
‘And Dennis realised then that the book entitled Dennis had already fallen off the shelf. He wondered what the point was of coming here, week after week, year after year. What was the point of it all? He looked at the pale pink roses on the carpet at his feet and wondered why he bothered. They had long ceased to bring her back to him. He lifted his gaze to her guileless face, to the sweet smile that hovered uncertainly upon it, and something tugged inside his heart.
And then he knew. He knew with a certainty that rose in him like a powerful wave, an indestructible wave of unconditional love, and he understood. It didn’t matter that she didn’t know who he was, because he knew who she was. She was his Goldie, his beloved, beautiful, irreplaceable Goldie, and she always would be.’
Whether or not the author intended it, I felt the Divine truth behind those words, the realisation that even though I forget the truth of who I am and the fact I am Spirit, Spirit does not forget me. I am a soul who comes from Spirit, which is perfect Love. The amount of times that I have reflected on my life thus far and wondered what the point of it all was and felt so hopeless because things didn’t turn out in any way close to how I’d tried so hard for them to be, and yet, all the while I am loved eternally for being me. I don’t need to do or be any different, only realise it.
We experience life through our minds and emotions but they are not us. Our inner being, our soul, is whole, enduring, love and beauty itself. In the early stages of her condition, Marigold, the main character, draws upon the scent of a rose to remind herself of her husband’s enduring love no matter what. As she starts to deteriorate, she reflects with sadness that she will no longer remember her husband bringing her the beautiful flowers, but then realises that while she won’t have the memories, which is undeniably sad, she WILL still experience the beauty of the rose in the moment, which is all she can ever do. The symbolism of this takes my breath away. Our inner being is that rose: Pure Love itself.
I don’t intend to romanticise Dementia. I have no direct experience of it but I know it is devastating. To effectively lose a person you love without them actually dying is just beyond dreadful. I have some experience of the latter, having lost my father to cancer some years ago and watched his mind and body shut down. And yet, even then I was aware of him becoming more alive than he ever had as the rest of him faded away. It was some comfort knowing that despite appearances, love always endures. It is who we are.
In another beautiful quote, Marigold’s deceased father points this out:
“Don’t you see Goldie?” he said calmly. “You’ll always be you. No disease can take that away. You’re eternal. Nothing can destroy you.”
Amen to that.
In case anyone is interested in reading this powerful novel it’s called ‘Here and Now’ by Santa Montefiore. (I’m not in any way connected to the author or publishers, I just love it!)