Richard Taylor video (YouTube)
Excerpt from The Forgetting by David Shenk:
I had a dream three nights after Dad died: The telephone rang and I answered. l Turning around I saw my father–no longer emaciated and ill with cancer; but round, rosy, and healthy. he put his arms around me and said, “I just want you to know that everything’s all right.”
Strange, but I had no such dream about Mother returning after her death. Alzheimer’s had taken so much from her and from us that she, literally, didn’t seem to linger here on earth. As my daughter said, “It’s almost like Grandma said, ‘I’m outta here!'” Who can blame her?
However, shortly after her death my father returned in a dream, wearing an absolutely terrible red plaid jacket. (Only mother could have gotten him to wear that thing! She loved red plaid.) He said that Mother had sent him to tell me they were together and all was well.
I learned to not be afraid to hurt. I learned to get all the help I needed in order to heal. As a result I’m beginning to remember the happier side of Mother
–S.P. Denver, Colorado
David Shenk asks the question:
Why are so many people fascinated by Alzheimer’s disease? Because it is not only a disease, but also a prism through which we can view life in ways not normally available to us. Through the Alzheimer’s prism, we can experience life’s constituent parts and understand better its resonances and quirks. And as the disease relentlessly progresses toward the final dimming of the sufferer, it forces us to experience death in a way that it is rarely otherwise experienced. What is usually a quick flicker we see in super slow motion, over years. It is more painful than people can even imagine, but it is also perhaps the most poignant of all reminders of why and how human life is so extraordinary. It is our best lens on the meaning of loss.
“To be human as we know it today is to experience the cycles of life,
to experience great loss and pain–
not just the pain of tragedy but the pain of inevitability.
The essential joy of life is embedded in our mortality, and our forgetting.”
” One cannot appreciate life’s majesty without experiencing its hardships.”