Updated: Oct 23, 2021
For the most part, I consider myself a realist, maybe to a fault.
There are situations that are difficult to handle, to understand, to cope with, but I try to accept them as they are and accept/damage control as much as I can, as quickly as I can.
This is something I’ve definitely done regarding my mother’s illness: I knew my mom was sick and it was pretty serious before others around me did, or at least wanted to know it. I was calling it what it was before others because somehow I just knew. Talk about things happening for a reason: the guy I dated right before my mom was diagnosed’s mom had early Alzheimer’s, too. So I was able to see the parallels in our stories, able to recognize the patterns in behavior.
Although my mom’s illness upsets me a lot, for the most part I don’t think about things like cures or being able to reverse things. Certainly, I have a lot of “what if” or “if only” moments: what if there could have been a way to prevent this from happening? If only this hadn’t happened and happened so early…
I found myself having trouble sleeping last night/this morning (I guess it was technically this morning). My allergies woke me up and when it became apparent this little attack wasn’t ending anytime soon, I made my way to the couch. Sometimes the change in location helps lull me back to sleep.
There were 2 blankets on the couch and I grabbed for the one that a cousin knitted for us for our wedding. It’s a comfort blanket, one more personal than the others because it was homemade and made especially for us. I thought about how rare it is to have these kind of items anymore and how so many of the blankets we had growing up were made by someone: my great-grandmother, my grandmother, a family friend.
This tangent of thought led me to think about all of the things my mom used to make. She was a very artistic and crafty person. For a while she went through a “country craft” kind of a phase: Amish-style wall hangings, painting hand-carved benches, stenciling geese as random decoration. Around this time, she made my cousin and me, along with her and my aunt, Little House on the Prairie costumes for the local Halloween parade (patches of the fabric still exist in other crafts she made at that time).
These memories began to make me sad. Sad to know that there will be no new mom crafts, no expressions of her creativity around my parents’ house, and sad to know that the ones that exist now serve as relics for a lost time, a lost person. It also made me sad to think that if we have kids, they will never know the person their grandmother was before the illness, never have special little knick-knacks or blankets made just for them by her.
This week has been a bit emotional with thoughts like these because Monday was my parents' 40th wedding anniversary, as well as the 8 year anniversary of when my grandfather died. Both these milestones are bittersweet, my grandfather’s passing is the more obvious, but my parents' anniversary just as emotional. We went to brunch as a family on Sunday and although it was a nice outing, it was just so heartbreaking to watch everyone try to generate enthusiasm and excitement from my mom over the occasion, an occasion she was clearly not grasping. These belabored attempts at feigning normalcy just made me feel sad and frustrated and sorry for us all.
It’s no secret that I am not the most religious person, but that does not mean I don’t believe in something I certainly believe in miracles and the power of prayer and positive thought. But I never really considered these viable options in helping “cure” my mom. Blame the realist in me, blame the fear of being let down even further.
But this morning, without thinking, I just started to talk to God, confront him, really.
“If miracles can happen, then why not to her? Why not fix this? Why can’t you help her? Why are you doing this? Why her? Why us?” As I asked these things, I thought about the friends I have who’ve lost their mothers just this year. I thought about the friends whose parents are sick, disabled–and their families and how they are struggling too. I wondered how God could possibly grant my wish when I could count at least a dozen people I knew personally who were probably wishing the same thing.
So then I just found myself begging, pleading, repeating again and again and again in my head:
Cure her. Fix her. Restore her.
It felt so desperate, but in my early morning daze, I honestly thought if I just kept asking, kept praying hard enough, it might be able to happen. That maybe I could somehow get through–but to who? To God? To the disease? To the doctors who keep brushing up against promises for a cure? I wasn’t sure, but for a little while it brought more hope than my usual realist reasoning…