I like dark, bitter sweet chocolate. Notice it’s called bitter sweet. The initial bitter taste causes the latter sweet to be enjoyed. The hint of sweetness is not too overpowering, but rich. No matter how many times I go to see Jerry, I wonder whether I’ve done it right. Today, I took two friends to celebrate his birthday. His friends at his new “home” had already sung Happy Birthday to him. We took him balloons, his favorite peanuts and his buddy, Bruce, made him a chocolate pie. Jerry was tearful most of the time, but between the three of us, we could keep him diverted. At first, he was a little overwhelmed by the noise in the BBQ restaurant, but he really enjoyed our walk on the river. It took a while for him to get use to being around us. The best part of the visit was when Bruce got out a small putter. He and Jerry tried to putt golf balls into a small wooden “hole”. Jerry made it in four times in a row! That was the sweet.
I can’t help but remember Jerry’s voice, saying, “Please. Please.” He said that when we were headed back to his “home” after we had spent the day out and when I was about to leave. “Please. Please” haunts me. He was begging me not to go. He’s compliant, but it makes me wonder. I wonder if I stay longer, will it hurt him less. I wonder if I come more often, will he get use to my coming and going. I wonder if I come less, will he just forget. I wonder when I am there, if it reminds him of the life he once had. I wonder when I take visitors, does he wonder why life is going on without him. That was the bitter.
I can’t help but think about this disease as slow torture. It’s the bitter. I wish I could say that it’s not. They say that it will get better in time; once he forgets who I am. I think I can handle that because my goal is for him to by happy. If happiness involves not remembering me....I can deal with that.
Yes, there is sweet. Sweet in seeing loving and caring people in the world who actually live for the pleasure of serving...and there are many of them. Sweet in watching them care for those who cannot respond. Being the loved one and caregiver, brings discovery of depth and strength you never knew you had. It opens an awareness and compassion to those who have been given such unfair trials in their lives. There is sweetness in discovering that it’s not my place to judge; but to have grace and mercy.
So in those things I give thanks. Happy Birthday to Jerry, I celebrate the day you were born. I am thankful for you....and there is much sweetness in that.