If I told you I have discovered the existence of a parallel universe, would you think I’ve gone mad? But it’s true! I know at least one other world that coexists with the one I am living right now… in my grandmother’s head.
She has been suffering from dementia for a couple of years now. Her memory is becoming increasingly impaired, and many a days now she would not recognize even her next of kin. Every time I go visit her, I can see her gradually slipping further away and it makes me very sad. I could not help myself feel devastated when she failed to tell who I was when I visited her the past weekend to celebrate her birthday.
How confusing it must be, having to wake up in an unfamiliar place every morning? How scary it must be, having strangers visit her claiming to be her family? How lonely it must be, having no one she knows around her?
Apparently, not so much. Deducing from the little glimpses I get into her world from our conversation, she is not at all unhappy where she is. In fact, she seems quite content reliving (though she thinks she is experiencing everything for the first time) the best days of her life. There, she is still very active, busy taking care of her children and grandchildren including me (yea, I wasn’t totally forgotten!), interacting with her friends and neighbours, and going on trips all over the world with her beloved husband (who in real life has been gone for almost thirty years). All in all, she is living a very full life and she appears very much alive.
So maybe, I should not feel lonely that she has become someone I do not know – she is showing me sides of her, what she was like before I was born, that I would otherwise have never gotten to know.
Maybe I should not feel scared that I have become a stranger to her – I still have a place in her world, just much younger, innocent and carefree… nothing wrong with that!
Maybe I should not feel confused that she and I are a world apart – she is only a parallel universe away that coexists with mine, and she can leap over any time if she so chooses.
I think I can now stop wanting her to stay in my world, stop making her see what I believe to be real, stop forcing on her what I think would make her happy. Wherever you are, grandma, if you’re in a place that makes you happy, I’m happy for you. That’s all that matters.