Today, I tackled Ben Nevis on a charity hike to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society. I couldn’t think of a more fitting time to post this little piece I wrote about my gran a couple of years ago as we were losing more and more of her to dementia. For my own comfort more than anything, I chose to perceive it as the more of her we lost, the closer she was to reuniting with my grandpa, her beloved husband John, whom we lost to leukaemia 21 years ago.
Recogniseable sounds approached her ears, piercing the dullness. Voices? No, music? Or was it laughter? Who was laughing?
Familiar faces approached, mildly illuminating the fog, generating a warmth in her heart. These were nice people, she loved them, whoever they were.
Her unfamiliar surroundings were blending into one obscure blur. Getting darker and darker. Quieter and quieter. Each object, each face, each sound becoming more and more alien each day.
But as she drifted away from familiarity, she
floated closer and closer towards the light.
Curious and radiant. Intense and sparkling.
The light dimmed a little. Who was this woman holding her right hand? And the girl holding her left? They seemed nice. They shared her eyes.
They sang to her, she joined in. They spoke to her softly. Were they laughing? She chuckled too. They asked her questions. “Yes.”
As the darkness reached for her, arms outstretched, the accompanying turmoil and frustration enveloping her, she gazed vacantly at the incandescent light.
The darkness, the uncertainty, the confusion; drifting further and further away.
Becoming a distant memory.
Memories danced towards her. Memories of love, pain, adoration, laughter. Memories of lost loved ones. Some lost decades ago, some ever-present, yet now unbeknownst to her.
Brighter and brighter.
Now she was dancing. Familiar voices sang to her. Proximate, but miles in the distance.
A familiar sound interrupted the music.
That laugh. Unmistakable. The laugh she’d craved to hear one last time for over nineteen years.
Brighter and brighter. Closer and closer.
As the darkness tightened it’s grip, the extravagant light widened it’s welcoming grin, almost beckoning.
His smile. So vivid now. Twinkling. Infectious and mischevious, loving and kind, as it always was.
Closer and closer.
He was dancing too. Awaiting his leading lady. So elegant and beautiful, just as the day he met her.
Recognisable silhouettes danced around him. That daft dog circling his feet excitedly.
The blackness was overpowering now.
But it didn’t matter.
The imminent light was already engulfing her.
Filling her with warmth, love, hope.
And just like that; she realised, she was no longer alone.
In fact, she never had been.
She is so loved. So lucky. So happy.