You dearly love a parent, spouse, sibling, or grandparent. Then a progressive brain illness takes over. Suddenly the person you’ve always known becomes a stranger. They try to escape from you, refuse to bathe, and accuse you of terrible things. Love seems muted. Sometimes it’s gone momentarily, at other times longer … even for a day or two. Sometimes it dies completely, replaced by duty. We grieve while they live. We may pray for the end to come, overwhelmed with guilt for thinking such a thing.
But it’s not death we wish for, that’s not we want. We want the pain to end––both their pain and ours. We long for life like it was before illness arrived.
We began this journey because we care. We carry on even when we think it’s no longer possible––like waking up wondering what hell the day will bring. Deep inside our patient remains who they once were; and so do we. So we enter their world ready to keep them safe for another day.
That, my friend, is what love’s got to do with it.