Only Love Remains

love elderly couple

We all return to love at the end. A hospice volunteer told me recently that every patient, no matter how angry, dissolves into love in the days or weeks before they pass.  Watching the haunting but beautiful movie ‘Still Alice’ and listening to Krista Tippett discussing Alzheimer’s with psychologist Alan Dienstag, I wonder if alzheimers is in super slow motion what happens to us all as we prepare to pass. We abandon the world of the left brain and perch instead in the soulful, intuitive love and music filled right brain. Laura did that gradually over her last 2 months.

I got a tour of an alzheimer’s facility in New York once. I met people who had forgotten almost everything in their lives, but the one thing they didn’t forget was love. The patients knew instinctively who liked or loved them and who didn’t. They loved to look at pictures of babies and young children and they loved to dance.

Dienstag (who works with Alzheimers’ patients) believes that when everything else has gone, intuition, humor and emotion remain.  And mixed in are flashes of great wisdom and poetry. One far advanced patient, who was no longer speaking,  responded one day to his question: ‘Why do you like the beach so much?’ with, ‘There is some kind of music that lives there.’ Another patient, an elderly man, who couldn’t recognize his family any more and who was continually being challenged by his distraught son to remember their connection,  said simply:   ‘I don’t know who you are, but I know that I love you.’

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