Memories play a huge part in being able to endure living with the steady decline of a loved one with any illness–Lewy Body Dementia, a terminal neurodegenerative disease, included. The person you fell in love with, at least their physical body, stands before you weakened but familiar, but their personality degrades and their memories fade. Someone you loved doesn’t even know your name…and eventually the body fails.
Someone, my significant other, was always aware of important dates/holidays and was very card-conscious. Every single holiday, for everyone he loved (mostly his grandparents, parents and some relatives), he would make sure he sent them a card–or made them one–even into his late 30’s!
It was amazing how he would remember so many and get them mailed on time and write a little note about how he loved them, including in my own cards. I usually got a small box of candy and a pretty bouquet of flowers–nothing expensive though has always been my rule.
On the second Valentine’s Day after being diagnosed with LBD, I received the sweetest card…
Valentine’s Day 2017
I began to notice, however, that his card-consciousness began to decline as did his hand-writing after he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. Fewer and fewer people and holidays were remembered.
Delivered in a plastic grocery bag (not an envelope), I was brought to tears as I deciphered what the 2017 Valentine’s Day card said:
“I know my memory is fading (a little), I know I haven’t forgotten how much I love you. (Three hearts)
“You may think I am a little crazy lately but I am still crazy in Love with you.
Love “Someone” (four hearts) XO XO XO
Valentine’s Day 2018
Someone didn’t forget the day. In fact, he had a card ready for me when I woke up.
The card came with an envelope. It was blank. The card inside was completely blank. I am not certain that the card was in the envelop.
I was touched that he remembered the day–it means a lot especially because I can see a decline that is as scary as it is sad. I gave him a kiss and a hug and thanked him for remembering. He was happy that he made me happy.
I went in the bathroom and bit my bottom lip, trying not to sob too loud because it was more and more obvious that the disease is taking another part of Someone away.
About an hour or two later, I took the card back to him, “Would you mind just dating this card for me, ” I asked. He took the card and wrote, “Val’s Day, 2018” and at the bottom signed, “Love, “Someone.” I know that in the not so distance future that these mementos and memories are going to carry me through a very painful journey–alone.
Valentine’s Day 2019
I know Someone hasn’t forgotten Valentine’s Day because he spent a good hour (at least) in the card section of the grocery store. I just walked and walked around trying to keep busy until he was done. He said that he had three special cards to get. Whoever they are for, just know that they are going to be late. (I would guess that one is for his mother, turning 80 next week.)
When we got home, he asked me if I like Ferrero Rocher’s hazelnut chocolates. In fact, my mother used to send a big box of them to us every Christmas for years and years so the memory must be stuck in his brain somewhere. “Oh, yes, I love them!” I said. “Do you remember how my mother used to send them to us every Christmas?” He didn’t remember–but in a way, he did.
I don’t know if there will be a card or even if there will be chocolates but it doesn’t matter any more. The most precious Valentine gift you could ever give–or get–is the gift of time–of being with someone, of sharing a part of your life, of sharing some of your love. Those gifts are priceless and so very precious.
Please remember this today and forever:
Love is absolutely everything and it is forever.
“I love you neither with my heart, nor with my mind. My heart might stop, my mind can forget. I love you with my soul because my soul never stops or forgets.” Rumi
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PS I Love YOU!
PPS YES! Being with your fur babies (or friends), remember that they are all precious and fantastic Valentine’s Day company. Aren’t they all just made or full of love? Just because you may not have a beloved, particular human being to sit across from doesn’t mean that you are alone.
And if you don’t have an animal to share love with, I’ll share some of the love I have here at the Rescue Ranch. I have lived surrounded by so many furry loves for twelve years now!