What does it feel like to live with Alzheimer's disease every single day?
I've thought long and hard about this question. I wondered if I could put into words what I really feel; if I could narrow down the amount of emotions I have. Then, Mom made a simple comment the other day and it all became clear to me. I hope I can do it justice.
Mom's comment came out of the blue. She was sitting behind me in the car as my brother was getting out to pump gas. We were alone. She said: "I don't know where I would be if God hadn't given you to me." I won't lie; it brought tears to my eye... allergies, I'm sure!
Imagine if you will (and close your eyes if you must): You are alone in a forest. Somewhere you have never been before that is completely unfamiliar. It's dark and it's foggy. You don't know which way to go. Which way will lead you out? You have to make a decision, you can't just stand there. It's not freezing, but there is a damp coldness that seeps down deep into your bones. You've decided your path, which direction you'll head toward. You just keep your fingers crossed that you've chosen the right way.
The further you walk, the darker it gets. You push through the brush. Some branches move out of your way easily; some snag at your clothes and exposed skin to leave little cuts that will become even smaller scars. You move around trees and you come to a creek. The water is flowing fast and muddy, full of debris that is passing you by. You have to get across, but not here. You can't take the risk. You have to stay safe. You move through the briars and on upstream to an easier spot. Where the water will be moving much slower, somewhere safe. You get across after just a small little setback.
You have to keep moving. You cross fallen trees as the mist swirls around your legs and your knees. It's dark and smothering, but you must keep on. You're tired, your feet hurt and you just want to rest, but you know in your heart that you just can not stop.
You have to get through you have to get out. Did you take the wrong turn? Should you have gone right, then left? No one is there to tell you; there's no one to ask. You just know in your heart you have to keep moving. To stop is to admit defeat, and that just isn't possible. Through your constant moving, thinking and rethinking, you fail to see the deer snacking on the forest floor. You miss the hawk soaring high over your head. You don't have the time, you must keep going.
There's a slow drizzle now as it gets darker beneath the canopy of the many, many trees. They seem to stare down at you, watching your every move, swaying back in forth as if chuckling over your choices. Looking forward and continuing your march, you see up ahead a brightness that you haven't seen in such a very long time. It gets brighter and brighter the closer you get. You walk a little faster.
Finally, you break out of the darkness to a bright, sunny day. The light is so bright you can't help but smile as you look at the wildflowers growing about. You've found peace and love. Sunshine and rainbows. You could stay here forever. You look around at all the glory. This is when you realize that this is but a very small meadow, a spot of sun in the dark. Ahead is the rest of your journey back through the woods. Back through the trees and the brush, the mist and the fog that you hate so much.
Then you go to sleep and wake up to start it all over again. Do you take the same path or choose another? You finally come to the conclusion that no matter which way you go, which path you choose, they all lead to the hell of saying goodbye.
Remember to appreciate the good, laugh at the crazy and deal with the rest! I love you, Momma!