A few years ago in this journey with Alzheimer’s, I used to ask Mom, “Do you know who I am?”
And she would usually answer, “Well, you’re Cheryl. Aren’t you?”
And knowing that she knew my name comforted me.
And then I gradually stopped asking her if she knew who I was. Because she almost never did. Instead I’d just tell her, “Mama, I’m Cheryl.”
And very often, her eyes would shine, and she’d smile brightly and ask, “Cheryl Lynn?” And hearing her remember my middle name would make my heart soar. And I would feel known.
And now, pretty much every visit, I sit down close to Mama, face to face, and I look right into her eyes. And I say, “Hi Mama. I’m Cheryl.”
And her eyes don’t light up.
And she doesn’t smile.
I try again, “I’m Cheryl, Mama. I’m Cheryl… Or Sherry… …You used to call me Sherry… Sherry Lynn…”
And Mama just stares at me. And her eyes and face look blank.
And I miss the smile. I miss the knowing.
But I hold fast to the truth, that this is not the end of the story. Mom knew Jesus and trusted Him for salvation, and He will never forget her. And someday Mama and I will be together again with Him.
And I can imagine the first time we see each other again in heaven. And I can picture Mama seeing me then. And I can hear her saying, “Cheryl! Cheryl Lynn!” And her eyes are bright and shiny again, and her smile is beautiful. And the warm hug we share doesn’t have to end.