Ch.78 Being Lost is Not a Great Experience
Do you remember the opening scene of On Golden Pond, during which Henry Fonda stumbles into his cabin looking scared and dumbfounded? “I got lost,“ he says. “I got lost on the same walk I’ve taken for years. What’s happening?” Fonda is experiencing the early stages of dementia.
Last night I woke around 4 a.m. because I heard Pat making small, scared sounds. I held her and we stayed touching while she slowly calmed down. I assured her that I would keep her safe. I would protect her. I would never leave her. That is when she said: “Being lost is not a great experience.”
I remember times I have been lost, once in the woods at an out of state park. I felt my fear mounting from “nervous” to “anxious” to “panicked” in just a few minutes. (I grew up in a city and have never felt at home in the woods). Fortunately, when I yelled for help it turned out I was only a few yards from our campsite. However, it took a long time before I felt comfortable again.
I was physically lost. I think Pat’s feeling of being lost goes much deeper. Pat becomes lost in her mind. When Lewy Body takes over, especially at night, Pat cannot remember the path of her being, of her soul. She becomes terrified as she searches for the core of herself, for her Patricia Potter-Efron. I believe that at these times Pat loses the continuity of having a core sense of self. No wonder she feels lost and terrified. That’s why I both held her close and reassured her as strongly as I could that I would protect her. I would help preserve her sense of self until she could reclaim it.
I learned something about myself during this experience. The protector in me felt tenderly male, masculine. It wasn’t a learned role. It was far more primitive and genetic, the male who protects and provides for his woman and children. Perhaps this is the equivalent of many women’s genetic drive to have and succor children. All I know is that I felt something deep inside that made protecting Pat both necessary and wonderful.
Pat’s comments on “Being Lost is Not a Great experience.”
Pat to Ron: “Ron, this is beautiful.”
Ron to Pat: “What would you say about getting lost in your mind?”
Pat: It doesn’t make sense to me about my core self being lost. I don’t know if it makes sense to write about that. You have to be careful.
Ron to Pat: “What about Ron as your protector?
Pat: I can see it might feel good to Ron to be my protector. That feels good to me.
Ron’s Added Note: I think that “protector” may relate to “possessor” at that same deep genetic level. Perhaps that is one reason I have been reluctant to receive as much help caring for Pat as has been offered.