Almost two years ago, one of the brightest lights in my life burnt out forever. Only, my gran’s special glow had been fading for a while. Years and years, in fact. No matter how much fuel and kindling we provided, nothing was enough to re-ignite the real her. Watching her vibrant flames gradually diminish to embers through my teenage years and early twenties was the most heart-breaking experience of my life. It felt almost twisted watching her slowly regress back to a child-like state when she herself had helped care for me as a young toddler while my parents worked.
One of the worst aspects was involuntarily being a useless bystander. A silenced, woeful witness. I desperately climbed the ladder as she floated further and further away from us, but the rungs kept snapping in front of me as I grappled for her, and Dementia snatched her away. Piece by piece, month by month, year by year.
My gran has now gone. Nothing will ever fill the void she left in my heart and soul, but in a way, that just means I’m lucky. Lucky to have had such a special bond with such a special, loving lady. We loved each other so fiercely, right until the end. She may no longer have known my name, but the eyes don’t lie. They glistened with nothing but love as they bore into mine on each and every visit. She still showered me with hugs and kisses and held my hand so tightly. In a way, we were lucky enough that her candle burned out before the disease could steal one of the most important pieces of her – her vehement love for her family.
I’m now tired of being utterly powerless. I have been itching to help in some way, any way. I did all I could for my gran. I danced with her, sang to her, laughed with her, held her as tightly as I could and made sure she knew how loved she was. Eager to ensure she was happy from one minute to the next, as that’s the timeframe she lived in towards the end. But nothing felt like it was enough. I couldn’t make it better. I couldn’t bring back the ‘real’ her. I couldn’t take away the pain my mum and other family members were experiencing. I couldn’t take away my own hurt. We were all broken and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fix it. Rationally, I know no one could have.
Dementia is a devastating end for so many people, and it crushes so many families across the UK. I am desperate to make a difference. To anyone who has been or is currently affected by this terrible disease, I am truly sorry. I wish I could help you and tell you it’s going to get better. I believe it’s an illness and experience no one can fully understand until they have witnessed it first-hand. You can’t yet grieve the loss of your loved one because they are still physically here, but, in a way, they’re also already gone. That in itself, is a confusing and devastating concept to process.
To contribute to alleviating the suffering of even one person affected by Dementia would be very humbling. In order to hopefully help as many people as possible, I will be joining the Alzheimer’s Society on 9th July to climb the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to help raise funds for this amazing charity.
The link to my Just Giving page is below. Any donations at all towards this great cause would be very much appreciated.