An open letter to my beautiful Mum with dementia

Subject: An open letter to my beautiful Mum with dementia
From: Your daughter
Date: 27 Oct 2015

Dear Mum,
I just wanted to say how much I miss you and how much I love you. I think of all the heartache this illness has caused, all the upset anger and pain, but not knowing if you know how much you are loved hurts the most.
I want to say sorry. I am so sorry for how alone you must have felt in the beginnings of this illness. We didn’t know and didn’t understand what was going on either. I feel so guilty about the way I treated you at times, but please know my anger only came from being so frustrated at losing the person I love the most in this world. This is in no way an excuse, but I know if you were well and you you’d understand the times I got angry, shouted or walked away. I think of these moments every day and wish I could have known what was really going on. But we couldn’t have known, and I hope I would have acted differently if I did.
I want to say again that in all those moments of upset before your diagnosis I loved you.
It’s been about three years since you first told me you thought something wasn’t right in your mind. I can’t believe how much has changed in that short space of time. I am so sorry that we couldn’t meet your care needs anymore and you’re now living where you are living. It was a decision that hurt so much to make. I still feel guilty and selfish every single day for not sacrificing everything to look after you as you looked after me. The rational part of my mind knows if you could you’d tell me not to worry and to carry on living my life the way I am and you’d have wanted me to, but the guilt and heartache is still there. In another world you’d be able to reassure me but I know that I need to reassure myself now that this is for the best. And that is what we all really think this is, for the best, for you and for us. Please never ever doubt because we couldn’t care for you anymore, that we don’t love you, because we do, now and always.

I wanted to say I miss you. It sounds so cliché but I miss you every single day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I experience something and wish oh so much that I could experience that with you. I want to tell you that I’m in love, in love with a wonderful person who I think that you would adore. I want you to tell me how proud of me that you are, I’ve started my masters and I’m following in your footsteps. Every moment I spend with my nieces and nephews, your grandchildren, I wish they could experience the unconditional love you would have given them. Oh my how you would love them, how you would shower them in love and they would love you in return. The milestones hurt the most, I think it’s been 3 birthdays and Christmases that you haven’t really been there anymore. But I have the memories of milestones gone with you, and how wonderful they were. I wish you could see how happy everyone is. You really would be proud of each one of us, things have been really tough over recent years, but we have remained strong and (mostly) unified. I think you would be really proud of us for that. I think to the future and things you’ll continue to miss. The birthdays, Christmases, weddings, more grandchildren to come. It hurts so much that you can’t be there, but I find a little comfort in how missed you will be.
Obviously I owe you a huge thank you. I wouldn’t even know where to begin in thanking you for all you’ve given me. Every time somebody compliments me, they really should be compliment you. And even in your illness you’re still teaching me so much. You’ve taught me how to be strong, how to keep going when there is so much hurt and so little reason to do so. Most importantly you’ve taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. I am sorry if we are getting things wrong, at the moment we are struggling to know what is the best and how to interact with you. I wish so much this illness hadn’t taken your ability to communicate, I wish you could acknowledge us, or that we love you. But we are trying, trying to learn new ways to show love to you.
I’m writing this letter as there are so many times that I feel so lonely without you, and this has made me feel a little closer. The other day I found a video from our holiday to Egypt, and it ended with you laughing. I haven’t heard you laugh your laugh in so long, it was so beautiful to hear. I think that made me realise how far I have come. I think things are going to be ok. I don’t want this to take away from how much I miss you, but I am rejoicing in the fact that I can hear your laughter and it makes me happy, to remember you once happy. The past 3 years or so have changed me, and us all, more than I ever felt possible, but I think you’d be proud of us. I really wanted to end this note on a positive, because you always told me to stop winging and get on with things, but it’s so hard not to focus on the pain. I think I’ll finish it with I love you, I love you now and always. Thank you for being you and for giving me all that I have, and I really hope you know how much we love you.