Mental Illness

Rain for a Fire

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          For days, I had been in a pot-o’er-the-fire, in a stew of my own making: I had thoughtlessly spoken and hurt someone. I felt wretched, yet, in my sin, I boiled more over the repercussions than over my wrongdoing. Trying to douse the flames within, I swam from harbor to harbor, running from the fire seas. Favourite prayers. Favourite saints. Rosary.

          But it seemed like heaven had chosen to maintain a stony stance against me.

          When you hurt someone, you must expect to get hurt back, for that is how many of the wounded manage their pain. Yet, anchored firmly within my obtuseness was the expectation that when I kick, others should absorb. That when I hurt others, even unintentionally, it is the ready roses of forgiveness I deserve.

          As the wild afternoon winds reached for their evening stoops, no rose of peace made root within me. If anything, the tempests scaled the highs. Wearied by the firestorm, I went to sleep by heaven’s door for a while. St Pio, St Joseph, help me, help me, help me, I prayed, before I sank into the knotted nap of one suffering the consequences of upsetting others.

          Roused shortly after, I expectantly reached for the peace I thought would be mine. Instead, heaven remained as closed as before, my hands came away empty. And restlessness resumed its keening. Deep in the frenzied whipping of guilt and hurt, I sought discernment and escape. I went to my favourite blogs. I returned to pearls tucked within the folds of precious mails. I roamed and searched the plains for someone to tell me I had done no wrong.

          I read of clouds and of rain, and longed for the hope of wetness to rend to ashes this terrible fire.  I traced those words and others, and longed for the peace and strength they proffered. Slowly, ever so slowly, since this all began, I learned to stoop, to humble lines in prayer.

          I have sinned against You, I wrote on my heart. I have sinned against You.

          As the nightwinds sang its hymn, I sensed a door crack open, and little leaves wearing orange floated quietly in. One by one, they softly settled on my spirit, and turned me towards Truth. When I made to move away from what I found hard to admit, the winds blew in more leaves through blogs and words I read that night, until they encircled me in the vine of Truth that held the rain of peace I sought for my flames.

          I knew then what I had to do. I stopped trying to escape flames I had stirred to life through my wrong. I sank to the ground, and began to pray the Rosary, weaving through its ancient prayers my own litany of remorse ~ Forgive me, Jesus, for I have sinned. Forgive me, Jesus, for I have sinned. Through each Sorrowful Mystery, I held Jesus’ Feet as the woman once did, yearning for the same forgiveness she received.

          On the last rose~bead, I felt the first sprinkles of rain….

A Thief Called Dementia

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Grief takes many, many forms. We know all too well the mourning of one so loved. We’d give anything for another few stolen minutes, hours before the chasm between us, the living, and death opens up (again).

But what of the grief that comes of seeing your love slowly morph into a stranger. Going to a place that admits only them and not you. Going beyond a boundary and looking at you while you stand outside helplessly, unable to bridge that gap, that chasm. You can see this person you love, touch them even, and yet, they are no longer the one you once knew.

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That’s dementia. The thief that steals love and memories and so much more. A slow death, more painful than anything, for which support is not as abundant as needed.

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Dementia is death that necessitates mourning long before the patient succumbs and leaves this earth. You mourn the loss of things and rituals shared. The loss of carefree life, loss of freedom from fear and anxiety. Loss of sleep. For too many, dementia brings out the worst in a carer.

Dementia takes too much away. Takes it away and never gives it back. It seems as if it wins every single time. And yet, it need not be so.

Call me fanciful, whimsical…..but love triumphs. Love always does. Whether with dementia or any other illness or sorrow, when every decision we make is made from love……..then, years later, even when grief burns deep, that love returns, yielding the peace that surpasses understanding.

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