Don't look back?

Those of us living a life affected by dementia are told never to look back, always to live in the moment, never to plan for the future and mostly I manage this.  I listen to those who say there's nothing to be gained from gazing into the past and I genuinely enjoy most of what's happening now but it's that word 'never' that's difficult and, as I've realised this morning, sometimes looking back is very useful indeed.  When you're in the middle of all of this it's very easy to think that this is all you've known, that what you thought you had was all in the mind and that you had deluded yourself that the person you fell in love with ever really existed.  I'm in the middle of a massive clear out, a proper 'spring clean' and this morning I discovered some photos from a family holiday to Santorini in 2004.  Jake had taken two friends with him and we'd rented two studio apartments, one for the boys and one for us.  I thought I'd remembered Jake and his friends entertaining themselves while Ash and I spent hours together on the beach sunbathing; drinking wine on our balcony every evening watching the sun go down; eating at a restaurant on the beach where we talked for hours about what we were going to do with our lives and generally relaxing in each others company and having a good time.  In my head that holiday, along with many others, was so romantic. Then dementia entered our lives and all I thought I knew disappeared to be replaced by doubt and confusion.  Did those holidays exist? Did we talk for hours? Were we ever on the same wavelength?  This morning I discovered the photos and realised that, although some of our time in Santorini may have been romantic, my memory had deceived me a little.  There in front of me were images of Ash and Jake having an amazing time paragliding.  I have never seen bigger smiles from either of them and they were having so much fun it made me laugh out loud just looking at them and in those moment I realised that I may have elaborated on the amount of romance in our lives but I hadn't imagined the man he used to be.  Sometimes it's good to look back.

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Ann said…
I look back too, Jane. Not to mourn the past, but to celebrate the wonderful memories we have made together. But, I don’t dwell on these moments either. I’ve learnt firstly that it’s only human nature to romanticise the past, and secondly that at the time we were making these memories, dare I say, I took these moments for granted. I thought my beloved and I would always stay the same.....just gently drift into old age together. What a shock when Dementia entered our lives and changed everything.

So I don’t dwell on the past, but looking back has strengthened my belief, that as long as it’s legal and you don’t end up in debt, take every opportunity to travel and make wonderful memories. I also, have learnt to love the moments (mostly), and the man beside me as he is now. I want to be able to look back at today’s memories and think, we’re okay, we love each other, and that’s good enough.

Jane said…
I completely agree and I think it's so important to continue making those memories. The adventures might be different and you might have to work a bit harder to get there but I think it's worth it. It's also a very good reason to see the best in any situation. If we can't do that then what sort of memories are we going to have at the end of all this?
Ann said…
Spot on, truer words.