Baggage

Baggage. That’s a term used to refer to all of the “stuff” we carry around with us. We all have some. We take it everywhere. We even bring it to work with us. And that isn’t always a bad thing.

In my baggage I carry a past experience of caring for a loved one with special needs. My Auntie suffered from dementia – and all that entails.

All my life, I had known Auntie as a beautiful spirit, filled with grace and charm. She was meticulous in her appearance, articulate, and well-read. I knew her, and loved her, long before crazy took over and she became a frightened, aggressive wanderer, lost in her own past. I knew that her presenting state of mind wasn’t who she really was, but this was the behavior I had to deal with. Every. Single. Day.

Because of this experience that I carry around in my baggage, I have so much empathy for the families who care for their loved ones with special needs – day in, and day out. Some of those days are long, and it can start to feel like a thankless job – until they find a way to assure you it isn’t.

One day, out of nowhere, Auntie had a lucid moment. She gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you so much Dear.” (She always called me Dear) Then, crazy clouded her eyes and she couldn’t remember where she was, or recognize anything or anybody around her. Including me.

Lia has a moment like that every so often. She’ll walk up to me and give me a big hug, and then look up at me with those beautiful brown eyes and smile. It’s as if she’s telling me she knows I care, and that she appreciates my being there for her. It’s a brief moment, and she licks my shirt as she turns to walk away. I’ll just shake my head and tuck the moment into my baggage. I will carry it with me always.

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