More than the others, she now relies upon routine to ease her anxiety. Unable to hear and often confused, structure and routine are reassuring, the patterns that allow her to continue through each moment with a residual semblance of grace and connection. Routine establishes connection with the world around her, guiding her through the flow as her senses and mind release their vibrations as her soul moves toward freedom. The passage of time is non-existent for her, there is and always has been only the now, the present, but ‘now’ has become expanded, ethereal and difficult to grasp this year. Routine brings shape to the slippery present.
Sleep when it comes is deep and peaceful, a release from the insecurity of a nebulous now; her muscles become slack, her breathing almost imperceptible, her energy smooth and slow. It is in striking contrast to her waking state. Always a nervous individual, her worry as increased with age, varying from pacing aimlessly to crying as if lost, from tentative attempts to be noticed to outright obnoxious behavior. Meal times are crazy and chaotic because this is a vital part of her routine, an instinctual drive for survival that often seems to take on a life of its own filled with panic and frenzy. She is better then, for a while, able to relax and observe without so much tension, and often lays down in apparent total exhaustion. She adores being hugged and touched and really seen. I realized a year or so ago that it was especially important to her for me to stop what I was doing and give her my full, complete attention for a few minutes on a regular basis ... to tell her that I did see her. To let her know that I know she’s still here ... like she needs the external love and reassurance that, yes, her body is still here in the world of form and that she’s not only spirit ... not yet. She’s so sweet yet needy - a simple acknowledgement of her presence lights up her entire being.
She has taught me patience, awareness, love, an insight into the gradual aging process -- how small details can really matter and make a big difference. Compassion. That I don’t have to understand what is going through someone else’s mind to feel compassion and express compassion. That I don’t have to know their past to help them right now in this moment. To know that sometimes it is enough to simply be present ... I don’t have to do anything except be nearby, be available. None of the others have ever reached her level of what is often referred to as senility or dementia or Alzheimer’s ... the gradual loss of cognitive function. But her soul radiates through her body just as it always has. I sometimes have to remind myself, when my ego gets in the way, that it is an honor to share what I can with her these last few years, helping her in her fear, anxiety, or confusion when she has so selflessly given of herself to me all the other years and even now continues to give the beautiful gift of her unconditional love.
What goes through her mind when she is staring at the door in the evening? Is her behavior automatic? Is she guided by an inner knowing of which she is aware or is the reason obscure? She waits and stares because it is time. At this time, most days, something happens that is specific and part of her routine -- Ron arrives home from work. This activity completes the daily routine. What’s different now about her behavior? Now, even on the weekends, even if Ron saw her a few minutes earlier, after she eats, she goes and stares at the door that opens into the garage -- she waits. So, when I see her waiting, I go ask Ron to pretend to come home; he understands and obliges with love and sensitivity ... and then the routine is complete for Chiana, she can relax for the rest of the evening.