I know I'm losing her - a little bit more each day. She remembers my son, but sometimes not my daughter. She looks at photos of where we used to live, with my brother and I in the garden as children, and says she doesn't know who we are and that she's never lived there. She can't remember how to cook or even how to make a cup of tea. She often says hurtful things, and when I suggest she does something (have something to eat, wash, get dressed or whatever) she always replies angrily "Stop telling me what to do." It's heartbreaking, but she's my mother and I love her.
She's with me every minute of the day, yet I miss her. I miss the person she used to be. I miss being her daughter. I feel like I'm the mother now. In the course of a day I go through every emotion there is: sadness, anger, guilt, resentment, happiness, frustration. One hundred times a day I say to myself "Stop, take a breath, carry on." Above all else, I think I'm afraid: afraid that in the future my memories of Mum will be of this time - not the previous 50 years when she was my mother. That all my good memories will be wiped out by all the conflicting ones I feel now. I want to remember her as she was - not as she is (or as she will be). I feel I'm grieving for her - and yet she is still alive.
It's hard. But I know it's going to get harder. I know that I need to be happy for today, because this is as good as it's ever going to be, and it's all downhill from here.
I know that I'm not alone. Millions of people are caring for elderly relatives with dementia. The other day I was taking Mum for an appointment and the taxi driver opened up about how he was caring for his father. People are kind and understanding and patient, and I draw strength from that.
I know I need to move closer. India is so far away. There's a huge heaviness in my heart as I write this because I have the perfect job at the perfect school. But I need to be closer. I need to see Mum more often than I can right now. And I know that in years to come it will be my mother that I remember, not my job. I know I will regret the time I don't spend with her - no matter how difficult that time might be.
I know I have a lot of readers in Europe. I know the power of a network. I know the recruitment season is coming up - and I suspect that with Brexit looming large that international schools in Europe will be expanding as companies relocate. To those readers I would say - think of me and please reach out if you hear of a suitable opening. Thank you.
Finally a poem - sent to me today by a friend. Kind words are very much appreciated at this time. Thank you too.