Some mornings I wake up and wonder if it’s just a bad dream, everything’s fine, My wife’s mind is not slipping away. Then, something happens that reminds me that the bad dream is true.
“What’s your name?” I heard her asking.
I looked around and found her standing in front of a mirror mounted on the bathroom door.
“What’s your name” she asked the image in the mirror.
Then, she looked behind the door, wondering where the image was.
No, it’s happening. My wife has dementia and her mind is slowly deteriorating. She puts the electric toothbrush in her mouth but doesn’t remember to turn it on, trying to brush her teeth manually. She sprays herself with air freshener rather than perfume. She puts clothes on and takes them off and puts them on again, and again, until I help her sort out what to wear. She is more and more needy, immediately fearful if she cannot find me.
But, in the midst of this downward spiral, she keeps smiling, keeps loving, keeps reminding me of why she is so precious to me.
As I write this, I find myself on the verge of tears. I want to cry, but I know I can’t. she is watching me and any sign that I’m upset, sad, disturbed, sets off a flurry of questions,
“What’s the matter?? Why are you sad? Do you love me?”
I smile and assure her, “yes, I love you dearly.”
And I wonder if the woman who used to be here is hiding behind the mirror.