I read a post on Facebook the other night from a man who discussed how lonely he felt in his mind, body and soul since his diagnosis of dementia. He talked of how people keep their distance and “are afraid to get their hands dirty” in hopes that they are making a difference in HIS LIFE because they join walks and raise funds.
He talked of how alone and afraid he is RIGHT NOW. His wish was that more people would spend time and efforts with HIM in the HERE AND NOW rather than focus on the inevitable and wait for a cure. All the time bystanders waste plugged into programming only perpetuates the doom and gloom concept only play into a helpless mind-frame. The persons diagnosed with a disease that is slowly stripping away who they are and all that they know, however, wait for us to figure this out.
Yes, they are waiting for a cure, but they are waiting for us to show up too. To really show up and find our humanity in how we care: to show up at their door and give a hug, to show up with a friendly greeting on the other end of the phone, to show up and lend a helping hand without shame or judgment, to show up and help those be seen, find purpose and feel loved. To show up and help those feel secure in their remaining memories.
When we are provided only extremist views of the impending future, we find our emotions are casually being toyed with in hopes to stir up fear. Without a real time “call to action” for those in the HERE AND NOW, the suffering are merely pawns with no recourse. When we label a disease as a weapon of mass destruction and ignore the possibilities of REAL TIME CONNECTION, we wage war on the suffering. We deny those that are living proof that a disease does not define them. We deny the pivotal purpose and meaningful engagement they bring to our lives and to the lives around them as they solider through and demonstrate a strength they did not know they had.
If you feel that your only course of action, your only contribution, is to donate to an organizations, walk on a coordinated path while donning a shirt or watch programming that acknowledges the harsh realities but provides no meaningful directives for you to take with your loves ones TODAY… then you are being misled.
I have colleagues, friends, co-workers and professionals that are fighting this disease, head on. They have the diagnosis! They have their good days and bad days and lonely days, yet they solider on. They have pivoted their lives to make meaning out of the hand they were dealt. They are the voices that reach out, hoping to spawn a movement that inspires us all to take on a new perspective. They are the voices of those that have come before them and went unheard. They know they have purpose and more to give.
When we deny these people, and so many others. who are struggling to CONTINUE to make a life for themselves, then we deny them of their own humanity. When we define caring and curing as something that can only be done in a lab, then we deny ourselves opportunities to connect.
We must find OUR humanity in caring again! We must be willing to get our hands dirty, step out of our comfort zones of info-graphics, fundraisers and emotional advertising and give the only type of currency that matters in the HERE AND NOW: OURSELVES.