“I dreamed we were there. The plane left the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it thread-bare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening…But I saw something only I could see, because of my astonishing ability to see such things:
Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules, of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them, and was repaired.
Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead.
At least I think that’s so.”
Right after I came out from the cinema watching ‘Still Alive’, I went straight to the gym and ran a solid hour on the treadmill. Furiously and frantically. Desperate for an emotional outlet.
I can’t explain – it wasn’t sadness or anger, but watching Alice Howland (played by the great Julianne Moore) crumpled slowly into the hole she cannot avoid has burned a hole in me.
By now you would know the story of ‘Still Alice’ and the Best Actress Award thing. It is about a woman learning to live with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. At the age of 50, linguistic professor Dr. Alice Howland is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The story follows her deteriorating situation, and how she faces the situation along with her family’s support. Yes, Julianne Moore took home the Best Actress Award at this year Oscar.
Not a new fighting-for-my-life story, but the movie was done in a very simple and focus direction. It is about Alice Howland and her daily chores. There is no big lesson to learn, but it reveals that we have no idea how to deal with Alzheimer’s disease, be it on us or our loved ones. We are afraid of losing someone, but nothing is worse if we know we are going to lose the memory of them, and all the beautiful things we have strive to own in our lives.
In the movie when Alice woke up her husband to reveal her situation, it was more towards she accepting the fact instead of telling the story. To accept that everything she has fought hard and proud of, everything that shapes Alice Howland as a human and as a part of the society, all of that, is going to go away. How do you deal with that fact?
I am not suffering, I am struggling. Struggling to be a part of things. To stay connected to who I once was.
To stay connected, she started to do more small things in her daily life such as remembering words and testing herself, she set questions in her phone and record a video in advance on a suicide guide, incase she reaches the point of not able to remember her oldest daughter’s name. It is always our sane mind that convinces our muddy head that we need end this life. We are just too afraid of being weak.
When she got lost running in the campus, it was more impactful. The places we are so familiar with, will fade away eventually, be it via Alzheimer’s disease or other ways. What is there to hold on to? At the ending, daughter Kristen Stewart read to Alice, and when she tried so hard to utter the phase “its love”, I was completely shattered. She knows love, but she just can’t say it.
So what really determine who we are? If we can no longer remember?
It is what we have done for others.
A mother. A friend. A sibling. A colleague. A teacher. A neighbour. A spouse.
They will help us to remember.
If we have given love, it will all come back.
We can only hope.
Images via Google.