2024.08 : Love Is Enough

A Park Circa 2024

I felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us, ‘pon us, ‘pon us
But I know that I love you so

This is the wonder of devotion
I see the torch
We all must hold
This is the mystery of the quotient, quotient
Upon us all, upon us all, a little rain must fall

— Jimmy Page / Robert Plant

In this week’s photo, if you caught yourself thinking, “Is she really embracing that bag of popcorn?” She sure is. And why, you ask? Well, welcome aboard the “Dementia Express.”

If a circuit board had acid poured over its connections, would it suddenly forget how to perform its tasks? Absolutely not. Its connections would be severely compromised, rendering it unable to function, regardless of our desires. Similarly, dementia isn’t simply forgetfulness; it’s an umbrella term, akin to “sports” or “science,” encompassing a range of medical conditions that affect the brain in a manner akin to acid’s effect on a circuit board.

Typically, it starts in the brain’s outer regions and seeps deeper, like a malevolent force. These outer regions handle emotional control, short-term memory, and navigating social norms, among other human behaviors. That’s why it’s easy to mistake correlation for causation. Forgetfulness is merely a side effect of deteriorating brain connections, not the root cause.

The circuit board lacks self-awareness, so it’s unaware of its fate being stolen by the acid. The cruelty of dementia becomes painfully clear when witnessing a loved one’s fleeting moments of realization that they’re being robbed of their sanity by an invisible, ruthless criminal.

If I have a choice of transportation, I’ll always opt for riding trains. I often draw parallels between the stages of dementia and the stations along the ‘Dementia Express’ Line, which snakes its way down from the mountaintop. It begins at ‘Senior Moments Station,’ gradually making its way down the line with many stops. Eventually, it arrives at ‘Delusions Station,’ and further down the line awaits the dreaded ‘Paranoid Delusions Station.’

Following another grueling 32-hour episode of paranoid delusions, my mother summoned the strength to confront her demons, albeit briefly, delaying the inevitable descent of the train by an hour. She was exhausted. She was frightened. She needed soothing. So, to the park, we went to share a bag of popcorn by the brand “Lesser Evil.” Indeed, fate loves irony.

The melting away of my mother’s certainties is one of the few certainties remaining. She still holds onto the certainty that popcorn makes her feel better. Anxious about losing even this, she clung tightly to the bag filled with handfuls of certainty and reassurance. While she remains certain of that, popcorn at the park it is.

Out of the blue, a dear friend called. In a tone I know well, a signal to heed without hesitation, she said, “Go see The Taste of Things.” Days later, with no prior research and avoiding any online trailers, I found myself in the theater. What a tremendous cinematic triumph! Never before have I witnessed a film so adeptly intertwine cooking and love— they’re inseparable, at least the way I experience love. To avoid spoilers, I’ll refrain from elaborating. However, I highly recommend it to those who love food and cherish love to experience the film in a movie theater. From the first frame to the last, each is filled with intense beauty, as I define it for myself. I found myself holding back tears, moved by the sheer beauty of it all.

I once boldly proclaimed, “You need a man who loves you to cook for you.” While I hoped the sentiment was clear, it likely didn’t resonate as deeply as I intended. Without experiencing it firsthand, it’s challenging to grasp the significance. But now, simply watch ‘The Taste of Things’ to witness love and friendship, in all their diverse flavors, at their finest.

Barely twelve hours after leaving the theater, still glowing from the experience, the ‘Dementia Express’ arrived at ‘Angry Delusions Station.’ As the relentless waves of anger threatened her sanity, it was the fleeting memory of her son’s unwavering love and assurance that provided her with the brief respite she needed before the ‘Dementia Express’ resumed its relentless journey toward the one-day inevitable terminus station.

I’ve endured thus far, having witnessed a loved one courageously confront the voices just to ensure I knew with certainty their love before the rip tides of fate ushered in yet another chapter. Like my mother clutching her bag of popcorn, I hold onto this treasure, reaching in for a handful of gratitude to bolster my resilience. Embracing a state of freedom from expectations, embracing full acceptance, and a heart brimming with confidence that simply knowing one is loved by a cherished one is enough in itself.

I resolve to share beauty and never let loved ones doubt. We never know when a stranger, friend, family member, or loved one will need to cling to a bag filled with our love in our absence.

This, indeed, is the taste of things.

And now… know the photograph.

Led Zeppelin - The Rain Song (Official Audio)

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