Haven’t been blogging much… once again “life” gets in the way…
My mom has advanced-stage Alzheimer’s. She got the diagnosis two years ago, but we knew for a while that something was wrong. For whatever reason, she has declined rapidly since then. She has basically progressed through all the stages of the disease in two short years. For some people it can take twenty.
And since that diagnosis, I have been slowly grieving the loss of her. I have been mourning the loss of the mom I used to have. The one that used to call me all the time, the one that would tell me I needed to wear more jewelry, the one that would play with my girls for hours and have them giggling non-stop. I have been grieving all the things that used to drive me crazy. I am grieving the imperfect person who was so important to me. I am grieving the loss of the knowledge that my mom would just always be there for me, no matter what it was that I wanted to tell her.
She can no longer talk on the phone. She can’t walk very well. She can’t interact much. She is existing right now. And it breaks my heart more than it can bear.
I took my two girls to Michigan last week to visit her. My kids are still young enough to not completely get the illness… their biggest question was, “Will Nunna remember us?” Thankfully, we had days with her where she did seem to recognize them. Even if she didn’t completely know who they were, she perked up and would smile at them. Kendall would bring in her “squishy guys” to show her (her beloved little figurines she got out of a vending machine at Bob’s Big Boy ) and my mom would smile. Sometimes she would even say, “Oh, those are nice.”.
My mom had this amazing connection to my girls. It was a crazy connection. Especially to Kendall. Kendall looks like me, acts like me, can be a pain like me… and I think my mom just ate it up. No matter where we went, Kendall was holding my mom’s hand. And when my mom would stay with us, Kendall would wake up early, bring 50 stuffed animals into her room, wake her up and put on a show. I would tell Kendall to let her sleep in, but my mom loved it. She would whisper in Kendall’s ear that she could come in no matter what time it was.
She is now in an Alzheimer’s home. It’s nice. When I was there, my brother and I went to a Bed Bath & Beyond and bought her a new comforter, decorations and picture frames to decorate her room. She seemed to like it. The kids had fun making it just perfect for her. It at least felt like we were doing something in a situation where you really can do nothing.
We got the news on my last day there that my mom has a short amount of time left. I made the decision not to tell this to my kids. It will be hard enough for them when she passes away, I don’t want them to be grieving the loss of her for the next few months while we wait… like I am.
I’m really sad. So sad. At times I’m angry. At times I grab my girls and hug them until they say, “Mom, you can let go now!”. There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed. And there are days when I want to stay as busy as possible so I don’t have to think about losing her for good.
It’s interesting… people asked me if I took any pictures of her when I was there. I did take a few on my iPhone. But I didn’t want to. I don’t want to remember her like this. At the end. It’s not her. The real her left a long time ago.
I have to find a way to grieve. I’m not sure how to do that exactly. I also know that I need to do things that make me happy. I realized today that I haven’t taken my camera out in weeks. I think it’s time. I think that documenting my life with my photography is a way to honor her life. At least I hope it is.
I know everyone always says that life is precious. That you should tell the people in your life how you feel about them before it’s too late. And they’re right. Do it. Life is so short. I’m still too young to be without my mom. So if you’re one of those people out there lucky enough to still have your mom (or dad) in your life, tell them how you feel. Today. Right now. Don’t wait.
Beautiful post…I’m in tears. I lost my mother almost exactly 12 years ago to cancer. She’s never met my children and it breaks my heart to realize the pain you are going through. I’ve been through that, minus the Alzheimers. I had 11 months to say goodbye to my mom knowing the end was coming. I really hope this doesn’t come across as wierd… but I hope for you, you are able to have the connection to her like the one I have with my mom now that she has passed. There are times when I feel she is so present in my life, it’s hard to explain. That connection has made her loss much easier.
Sending you strength during this tough time…
Jennifer: I am crying and have a sad broken heart while reading your blog. My heart goes out to you during this time. You gave her your unconditional love and through your girls have made your mom so happy. I love how Kendall would bring her 50 stuffed animals to show your mom. Your gift in photography is an amazing way to honor your mom’s memory and to share those wonderful memories with your daughters. Thank you for sharing this on your blog. I know it must be hard to write this down. You have reminded me how precious our families are and how much we need to say, “I love you” to our family.
Sending you a big hug, my beautiful beautiful friend.
Jennifer – I am so sad for you. I have tearing just streaming down my face right now after reading this. I don’t know what I will do when my Mom is no longer with me and I can’t imagine the pain you are feeling. However you need to deal with it is your choice – stay in bed, keep busy, take pictures – it’s up to you. It may be something different everyday. Your love for your girls will be how your Mom lives on forever. She taught you to love the way you do and you will teach your girls the same love. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. Meghan
I’m so sorry, jen. You are too young to be without your mom and your girls are too young to lose their grandma. It’s not fair. But her memory will live on through you and the relationship you have with your girls. Big hugs to you and your family!
My sweet dear friend…….. Im ruined for the night. THANK YOU. I have know idea why these things happen, but I know why God brought you to me, and I know why I read this tonight. THANK YOU.
This was the most touching tribute to your mom. She’d be so proud of you. I still miss my own mom and know how alive the memories stay for me I’m sad for you to have to go through this now but what you have said about valuing your girls and family seem so right. You are loved and so many care about you. Love Amy
WOW…such a heartfelt post. My heart aches for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. My mom is a cancer survivor and those uncertain days were some of the hardest.
You just started following me on Twitter and I stumbled upon this post. Such a reminder to cherish each moment.