“You’re so beautiful,” said Alice. “I’m afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are.”
“I think that even if you don’t know who I am someday, you’ll still know that I love you.”
“What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?”
“Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.”
From the book “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova
It’s a sad reality, but chances are we all will know someone who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. More than 5 million Americans are currently living with the disease and 15.4 million caregivers have provided more than 17.5 billion hours of unpaid care for them.*
I’ve personally watched on as cherished family members have battled this dreaded disease – and witnessed the emotional toll it has on their vital caregivers. It often makes me think about my wonderful wife and how unimaginable it seems that my brain could ever make me forget our first kiss, our wedding day or the way she still touches my heart some 13 years after our first encounter. But sadly it’s happening every day to ordinary people all around this country.
This weekend is the 11th Annual National Commemorative Candle Lighting Weekend of Prayer – held each November during National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and initiated by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. (http://candlelighting.org/)
From their website:
National Commemorative Candle Lighting is an annual event sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to remember and honor Americans who have been or will be affected by Alzheimer’s disease or related illnesses. It is held each November in recognition of National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. Local organizations hold inspirational ceremonies in their communities during one weekend, uniting individuals from coast to coast as they light “candles of care.”
While there might not be a physical ceremony in your area, or maybe you’re just not comfortable sharing this part of your life in a group situation, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take part. Find some quiet time this weekend to light a candle and say a prayer for someone you love who’s been affected by this disease. Maybe talk about some wonderful memories or go through some old photos, or if this special person is still with us, maybe spend some time visiting with them and giving the gift of yourself. You can even light a “virtual” candle on the website above.
Regardless of how you choose to commemorate the event, take the time to remember those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. Pray for them – have compassion for them – most of all, remember them in your hearts.
Og Mandino once remarked, “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to die by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.”