My wife Serap and I got married in June, 2009, on a boat on the Bosporus, and our family and friends from all over the world danced with us into the evening as the Istanbul city lights came alive. It's one of the sweetest memories we have, and I'm grateful we could create it with my mother.
One day during the hectic wedding preparations, my mother asked us a few too many times where we were going ("To get the cake, Mom"). That's when we started to suspect something was wrong. She was diagnosed with dementia a year later, and last year my brother and I helped her move from Tokyo to New York to retire.
As she shares her favorite memories of my brother and me—over and over again—we're reminded that it's been over fifteen years since we've all lived in the same country, and she only has memories of us as children. So we're desperately working to create new memories with her: we take her to concerts, go on long walks in Manhattan, eat Italian food, cheer on Japanese runners at the Boston Marathon, and allow her to spoil our toy poodle-terrier Lupin.
I have finally realized that memories are the most important gift we can give each other. I'm now resolved to being passionately present with those I love: The "later" we often speak of may never come, and memories can only ever be created now.