When I visited my mom last week, I was delighted that as soon as she saw me, she said: “Well hello, Michael!” The previous time I had been with her, someone came into the room and asked: “Who’s that with you?” See looked over at me, paused a moment, and said: “He’s my friend.” She didn’t know me or my name.
My mom is in a care facility. She has Alzheimer’s. And the first time she did not recognize me—it was tough emotionally for me. For years and years, I was known in the small town in which I grew up as Louise and Lewis DuVal’s son. As the time will soon arrive, when my mom no longer knows me at all, I’m confronted with the question—who am I?
I’ve engaged in an exercise with people before. I invite you to try it. Write out 10 different sentences, each one beginning with the words: “I am . . .” If you do that, look back over what you’ve written. What do your “I am” statements say about who you are, about how you define yourself, about your identity? (If you’d be open to it, I’d be very interested in learning from you what you discover about yourself when you do this exercise if you’d like to email me.)
I am experiencing anticipatory grief as I ready myself for the losing of my mom. As I do, I’ve reflected on these words from Isaiah 43:1-2: “The Lord who created you says, ‘Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you.’”
I take great hope in this. My identity is in the Lord. I belong to God who will never forget me or my name. I never need to be afraid of that. The God who knows me better than I know myself claims me as the His beloved child. The Lord is with me as I go through this time of trouble, and in the Lord’s strength I will not be overwhelmed. I pray that for you too.