A few weeks ago Marc and I somehow ended up having a completely free night. We spent the night watching two movies! One of the movies was Awakenings, which is a quality movie and should be watched if you’ve never seen it. In the middle of the movie after seeing many moments where the audience and characters are wondering if the patients in the hospital are actually aware of anything around them, I paused the movie in tears.

I thought of Marc’s mom and dad. Marc’s dad has been in a nursing home for almost two years now because he has front-temporal dementia and a number of other medical issues. He has faded rather quickly in the past few years, and Marc’s family has told us that he rarely, if ever, speaks anymore. Marc’s mom visits him everyday, however. I know this is difficult for her on so many levels. But she has remained faithful and caring and loving to her husband, even though “her husband” is no longer really there.

But that’s why I stopped the movie. I told Marc, “What about the spirit?! Isn’t it possible that, though your dad’s brain and body no longer allow him to communicate or recognize what’s going on around him, their spirits still connect?” The thought, which I’d never had before, made me happy and sad all at the same time. I know the “spirit” is sort of an ethereal concept, but I think we can all think of experiences that have left an ache or a joy that we could not articulate, or moments where you’ve felt a deep connection or maybe cold isolation. I think those are spirit moments. And I think it’s possible for our spirits to “know” what our brain may not be able to articulate or even take in. (And, yes, I understand that this may be on the verge of heretical, but I think I’m okay with that.)

The picture I had in mind that night was a connection that was passed on between Marc’s mom and his dad from the chest. It’s like all of the love and care went from breast to breast so the brain didn’t have to be a part of it. It was pure love, and love has always been better felt in the heart than examined by the mind. And because it doesn’t even pass through the brain, Marc’s dad can both know it and express it. Because, though his brain has been damaged, his heart and his spirit aren’t.

Now, I don’t know if this is “the way” it is, but I like to think that it’s possible. In the last scene of Awakenings, the doctor Robin Williams plays talks about what it was like to see his patients “wake up” and find out all of the things that they had actually experienced while they were “sleeping”. And he talks about the human spirit. And it made me think that my little insight maybe wasn’t too far off.

Then a few days later Marc’s brother put up these pictures of his parents. And I think I can actually see the spirit in them.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor 13:7

Posted in Entertainment, Faith, Family | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Spirit

  1. Ky says:


  2. Carissa says:

    Wow, that brings me tears. I think there is definitely truth in that, Dixie. So special, so hard.

  3. Natalie says:

    I loved that movie.

    I often wonder how much my grandfather understands. He has been in a nursing home for a few years now and falls under the umbrella of dementia. It seems like he is willing me to hear him because the words just won’t come out. It makes me so sad for him and I think he must be so frustrated that he is unable to communicate. Then I wonder if he really is frustrated. Then I wonder what role his meds play.

    I think I do feel his spirit sometimes. Despite the fact that no words are passing, he is looking at me, and I am looking at him. We are connecting. Something is there.

    If you haven’t read it yet, pick up Still Alice. It was a good read about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

  4. Matt says:

    “And I think it’s possible for our spirits to ‘know’ what our brain may not be able to articulate or even take in.”

    Absolutely! I don’t believe that is heretical at all. This is where the value of contemplative prayer and meditation come in. A more expanded, evolutionary and integral perspective on who we really are leaves a lot of room for the exploration of these kinds of ideas and offers them quite firm grounding.

    Keep asking the questions and yes, that is a sweet movie!

    Thanks for sharing:)

  5. Toni says:

    Good thoughts, Dixie. For some time now Chris and I have been trying to understand what happens when a person ‘goes’ but their body continues functioning, especially when it’s seemingly in relatively good health. Dictionary definitions of soul and spirit link them, but I’m more inclined to believe (and my reading of the bible tends to confirm it to me) that soul (mind) and spirit are different things.

  6. Pegs says:

    Oh Dix, you know that I know all too well what it is like to have a loved one in that place where Marc’s dad is. The movies only romantacize or try to make this horrible disease something to be laughed because the reality of it is far more devastating than can ever be conveyed in a 2 hour movie. What I can say, is for me when I go to see my mom and when people ask if she still knows me or recognizes me is that she recognizes the Love. She knows that when I or my siblings walk in that we are there just for her and we love her just as she is. Even though our hearts break to see her deteriorating and her words jumbled and her face becoming less recognizable as the mom we once knew, I still believe it is all still there. I don’t know what else to say, I just know that that is the only comfort I can give myself is that it doesn’t matter who my mom thinks I am or who she thinks she is, she knows that I love her and that is the only thing that matters

  7. Thanks everyone for your words.

    And a ((hug)) for Peggy.

  8. Angela says:

    SO beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta