When my dear husband was first diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, he tried very hard to deny it. He didn’t want anyone else to know and I believe he thought if they didn’t know, it might go away or not be true.
We were grateful it was a slow slide in the beginning; grateful for medication that allowed him to continue his daily routine for a few years. But there was no turning back; we were still moving forward in time and each year had new setbacks.
John 20:24-29 24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Ben always believed in our Lord, but wondered if there really was a God and heaven. He wanted God to just do miraculous things that no one would doubt. I often told him miracles happened every day; that he should look at life with eyes of faith in all God has done. Yet it was his faith that pushed for our granddaughter to be baptized. Her baptism led us both back to full communion with the Church and God’s plan of having us grow stronger in faith. Just in time, too with his illness diagnosed less than two years later. But it was also a great time for Ben to be healed of the doubt and trust in the goodness of God he could see. God kept preparing him to lean in closer and see the miracles all around him. Like a new granddaughter who defied odds of breathing and overcoming severe throat issues, or the numerous family and friends constantly checking on us, helping beyond what anyone could expect.
He came to accept that it was God who would help him the most in the trials of everyday life; of knowing he would not see his grandchildren grow up nor be a husband to me in our old age. He also learned how to pray with his own words and those of others for him. He went from not seeking God to grasping for him.
You changed his heart Lord, you gave him great faith by way of trust. He had to surrender so much of his independence, spirit and privacy to me and others. He learned in a very humbling way to trust us in the care of his body and spirit. Over time Lord, I witnessed how he grew – understanding and accepting this cross. Yes it was his eyes I recall mostly Lord, the eyes on his face that were the door to his heart. They told it all. Pain, humility, release of doubt and acceptance of truth – and love, love poured forth so strong that tears could come in an instance.
We prayed Lord, like St. Thomas, that our doubt and fears would not be remembered. We prayed your will be done, hard as it was to accept. You heard us, you saw the pain and confusion with our desire for it to be ended, removed, yet knowing this was his walk to Calvary and he could only offer up this sacrifice for another suffering soul who did not know you.
He might have begun his journey with faith the size of a mustard seed, but it ended as a huge tree. My Lord and My God. A Mass held bedside a few days before his death spoke of the faith he had – searching with his eyes for Father to bring him the precious blood to drink. One drop, that’s all he could take. Those eyes spoke volumes of readiness to go to you Lord.
Help us, Father, help all of us to be true believers even when it cripples us; and especially in those moments. Help us build our faith in you through what we do for each other, not in what we need to have proven. St. Thomas, pray for us.