Last evening I was working with a woman who is in the later stages of Alzheimers. Over the last number of months I have watched her slow decline and recently she has forgotten how to eat. Although this is a common effect of the disease in its later stages, I was profoundly grieved and moved with compassion for what she was going through. She sat at the table with her favorite foods on a dinner plate in front of her. We have been preparing her favorite foods for weeks now, trying to keep her connected to the process of eating, trying to keep it familiar.
But last night she just sat and stared at her plate with a blank expression on her face. I had cut up the food and even put the fork in her hand, but she looked at me as if to ask “What is this all about?”. I sat next to her and I asked her if she was hungry, and she nodded that she was. I asked her if she wanted to eat and she nodded yes. I tried to help her understand that the plate in front of her was food, but she didn’t understand, and so I began to feed her and she ate hungrily.
She even thanked me, because she did understand that she had been hungry, and that I had fed her, but she still had no idea what that plate was in front of her, and she would have gone hungry had someone not been there to feed her.
Throughout the evening I found myself looking in the Mirror of that experience and wondering how often do I not see or understand that what I need is right in front of me? How often do I lose that Connection and how often am I lost and hungry in my mind, my emotions, my relationships, because I’ve lost Understanding? Alzheimers is a disease of the mind that breaks the connection, but I think that I can lose that same sort of Connection when I am Frazzled, Harried, Stressed, Anxious, Untrusting, or Afraid. It may not be that I do not recognize food, but I may cease to recognize Love, Mercy, Provision, Gratitude, Relationships, Beauty.
My personal commitment to Consciousness and Presence is what enables me to stay Connected to all the ways I am provided for, Consciousness and Presence helps me to See and Understand the Dinner Plate in front of me. Deo Gratias.
With my Compassion and Desire to Help Feed the Hungry,
Gabriel Orion Marie