I see you… when you first tour the building, overwhelmed by the need for this decision and unsure if you are doing the right thing for mom, dad, husband or wife.
I see you…carefully decorating their room, arranging photos and personal items to try to make it ‘home’ for them.
I see you…the day they first move in the community, and they are scared, angry, confused and lash out at you or beg to come with you when you leave, and you struggle to find the words to reassure them, and yourself, that this is for the best despite the uncertainty in your eyes.
I see you…your expression as you leave them behind to go home for what is probably the first night you’ll actually be able to sleep because you don’t have to worry they’ll wander away, and I know you won’t sleep because of guilt you have for bringing them to us to care for in our facility.
I see you…when you arrive carrying supplies for your loved one, the adult diapers, their favorite snacks, flowers for their room or seasonal decorations.
I see you…when they smile but their eyes don’t know you and you realize today is not the day mama, daddy, your spouse will recognize you or understand why you brought them these things.
I see you…when you feel guilty that dad hit a staff member, mom had an accident and needs to be cleaned up, and I wish I could make you understand that I know what I signed up for and that deep down I really do not mind one bit.
I see you…feeling bad that mama is giving the staff a hard time, and wish you knew that we really understand she is simply having a hard time.
I see you…when you tell them Happy Birthday, bring in gifts, cake and celebrate, and additional family and friends to try to make the day an enjoyable memory, and when they get upset, or don’t know it is their birthday and don’t believe you that they are ‘that old’ and don’t recognize the others visiting on what should be a happy day.
I see you…the day after the party, and they don’t remember a single moment of it or recognize themselves or others in the photos you share on your phone or tablet, your hopes crushed that this would some how jog them back into the present day complete again mentally.
I see you…when you take home their laundry, not because you mind us doing it, but so that you can still feel like you are doing something to provide care for them, because it grew to be far too big a task to handle at home any longer.
I see you…your concern about them, the deep love you have for who they once were and hope that we will care even half as much about them as you do.
I see you…when you visit day after day, week after week, pushing their wheel chair, or fixing their hair, helping them eat or trying to answer the same question for the 20th time that visit with the same enthusiasm you had the first 3 times.
I see you…when you leave after your visit, the smile faded from your face and eyes filled with tears struggling with the knowledge that this is but a shell of the person they once were and no amount of denial can ease your pain.
I see you…grieving the loss of your loved one to this wretched disease that takes their memories, personality, and often times joy.
I see you…as you begin a bedside vigil, watching what is left of them slip quietly away in death.
I see you…grieving a second time as you leave, walking behind their body as it is wheeled away, a mix of pain at your loss and relief that they are no longer suffering.
I see you…wrestling with the guilt for the reprieve that has finally come.
I see you…when you take down that last picture, hug the staff, cry and promise to visit us often, knowing that your visits back will not be often and will eventually cease because it is painful to return and the reason you came is no longer here. We are your friends and support, an odd kind of family, partnering for a season, and it is okay, we understand and will miss you too.
I saw you…prayed for you, loved you and your special person I cared for each shift. I thank you for the honor of the opportunity to show love, support, TLC, and whatever else was needed each day to make their life more meaningful and good, and your concerns eased knowing I was going to to my best to achieve everything you hoped for them.
Do Not Ask Me to Remember
Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.
– Owen Darnell