By May of that year, I was entrenched in the routine. I was spending a lot of time with her, and I started thinking that it was going to be really important to me later to have some photos of the two of us together. I decided to make an effort to capture as many “selfies” as I could throughout the whole journey with her. I wanted to hold onto all that I could. I had started to see the other residents go down a path that I was very frightened of watching my other follow. I had started seeing them decline, bit by bit. Sometimes it felt easy to overlook it. Other times that just didn’t seem possible at all. There were many nights I cried just thinking of my mom having to go through that. I vowed to make her smile as much as possible.

I don’t think my mom had ever had a selfie before. It was confusing for her. At first she just looked at me because I was close to her. I prompted her to look at the phone and she first looked curiously at the image in front of her. I don’t know if she knew who she was. She did see me in that image though and I made a big deal of that. I would say things like, “Look at me in my phone. Isn’t that funny! Do you see that smile? I think that is one silly smile. Look at it. Don’t you think that is silly too?” This would elicit a smile much of the time, and would get her looking at the lens.

I’m sure she had no idea what I was doing, but that didn’t matter. I was preserving these memories for me. I was building a safety net for the future, for the darker days and for the inevitable days after I was forced to say good bye. 

If you have a loved one going through this, please try to capture the magic moments. You will thank yourself for it later. Yes, they are a shell of their former selves. Yes, they have no idea what’s going on, but you do know what’s going on. You are making your loved one smile. You are sharing a precious moment together. You will look back on those photos later and it will make you smile, even if it is through tears. These photos will become your prized possessions and they will help you bolster your strength when you need it. I am grateful every day that I took photos. I took copious amounts of photos, truth be told. I still look at them nostalgically. That smile on her face still warms my heart.


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