I’m trying to get my head around something tonight and not having much success.
My sister Colby called me this evening. She’s staying with my folks today and I’m due up there on Wednesday. She called to give me a head’s up, to warn me that Mom might not know me when I get there.
“That’s okay,” I assured her. “I’ve had that happen before. She’s never said it outright, but I can tell by her expression that she sometimes doesn’t know who I am.”
“Well, I never had it happen to me,” she replied. “Tonight I’m her sister Jean,” (our Aunt Jean, who died more than 20 years ago), “and you don’t exist.”
Colby didn’t mean for her news to hit me like that. She only wanted me to be prepared. I’m grateful, and yet…
You know, at first I thought it didn’t bother me; that it wasn’t much different from Mom not recognizing me. I was wrong. There’s a huge difference between not being recognized and not existing at all in the mind of a loved one.
With lack of recognition, there’s the chance I can joggle her memory a bit, remind her of who I am. It’s happened before. But if who I am has been erased from her mind entirely, if the fact of my existence is a cipher, as if I were never born…
I feel a little like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” except there’s no angelic Clarence to ring his bell and grant my wish to live again.