The hardest times of last year were the days, weeks and sometimes months we were barred from visiting you in your care home. I’d imagine how you were, firmly rooted in one of the large armchairs amidst the dementia floor’s communal sitting room. I’d wondered if you were looking towards the window, trying to connect with the outside world. Then I’d comfort myself with your lack of understanding – of the entire world gripped by a pandemic, of your situation, of your illness, of us. Instead, I’d use my memories, my intense love for you and our true connection to try to reach you – but it was hard.
When it was safe to do so, we made the best of the situation by communicating through a wall-to-wall screen. Us on one side reminding you of who we all are and how much you’re truly loved by so many. You tried hard too, all of us desperate to reach a common ground where there was some understanding and, of course, comfort before our time was up and we had to wave goodbye.
However, now we can visit you properly again, regularly too, and even hold your hand and help you drink and eat and walk. I know you can feel the warmth of our love. I can see it in your smile, your recognition and the way you try with every last brain cell to acknowledge and communicate with us. Because reaching you, Dad – is all I want to do. I’m at peace with the exciting and beautiful life you had, I understand now only too clearly how this destructive illness obliterates all that and I can honestly accept that what we had has not gone but is now no longer present. And so, reaching you in some form or other is why when we visit, we play your favourite music and why she brings you a little cake or a photo or just talks of what you knew and loved.
You’re there. For the moment, we’re reaching you; your blue eyes sparkle to let us know.