I can’t tell you how many times during my mom’s Alzheimer’s journey I thought to myself, “Why bother? It’s not like she’s going to remember this anyway.”
There was a time when I couldn’t even look at my mom without tearing up. Every time I saw her I would have to leave the room to cry at some point. Then I would go home and cry some more.
I felt like there was no point in trying because my mom would never know or remember the time we spent together. She would never know or remember the things I did for her.
Even well-meaning people would tell me not to be so hard on myself if I didn’t have more time to spend with my mom or if I couldn’t do something for her. They would say, “Your mom’s not going to know anyway.”
Friends, that is so not the point.
That’s why we do what we do.
It took me a long time to learn that.
It also took me a long time to learn that although my mom might not remember what we did together or what I did for her, she would remember the way it made her feel. The feeling would stay with her long after I left.
Trust me, I’ve seen it.
When my mom was dying, my friend Jeannine told me something that really stuck with me. She told me to imagine that when my mom died she would regain all the memories from over the years and she would see all the things I did for her.
It didn’t matter whether I actually believed it or not. Just the mere possibility was enough for me.
I would imagine that when my mom died she would be flooded with images of all the time we spent together over the years. She would be flooded with images of all the things I had done for her. She would be flooded with images of me sitting at her bedside, holding her hands and playing with her hair until my back hurt and my legs fell asleep from the way I was sitting.
She would be flooded with all the feelings of joy, warmth, light, and love, and she would say, “All this? For me?”
That was enough for me.
I hope it’s enough for you, too.
Imagine your loved one will be flooded with the images of whatever it is you’re doing with them today, whatever it is you’re doing for them. And if you can’t be with them today, imagine they will be flooded with the images of you missing them, of you thinking about them.
Keep going. Keep doing. Keep trying.
It all matters.
It all counts.
Even if they don’t remember.
You will never forget.