Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A "perfect" reality

Someone asked me the other day how I was doing - I told them that the sun was shining and that my heart was at peace. I talked about the joy of having a house full of wonderful students and the joy of having a wonderful marriage to a man I like, love and respect. I talked about loving the home we have been blessed with and having a lot of fun decorating. I talked about projects and plans. I told her about the church I'm involved in and the wonderful, beautiful community I get to be family with. I raved about my nephews and my sister. 

She said, "I'm glad your life is so perfect". By the way, she said that sincerely. She was happy to hear my life was perfect. 

But it caught me off guard. Perfect? My life isn't perfect. And I'm not talking about my inability to be on time for work, or the struggles I have getting to the gym - those are normal things. My life isn't perfect because there are sucky things in my life. My mom is dying. Like actually. It's no longer true that my mom will die sometime in the future because of Alzheimer's - it is now true that she is currently dying from this disease. And this sucks. It's heartbreaking. 

It's funny though - daily I walk in a tension of seeing the joy and the beauty and the goodness of life around me - and yet I experience the sadness and the fear and the sheer panic of the truth of this situation. I am grateful to Christ that I can see the good - and that He has given me so much good. It is the first thing I think about when I think about my life. But next up is my mom and the truth of the sadness of this situation. 

So how am I doing? What I talked about at the start is all true. My relationships are in order - I am at peace with friends and family and coworkers to the best of my ability. Life is good. But every day I face the reality of my Mom's decline. Every time I see her, I know she is dying. I watch my Dad care for her in the face of this slow death. I watch my Dad tired. I watch my sister spend time and effort and love on both of our parents and I watch the reality of the situation affect her as well. 

Some days I am at peace with this. Death is inevitable. My mom turns 60 in December and that is a long life! She has done wonderful things - she has made a family and had a fulfilling career - she has loved her God and served Him. She has been a loving wife and has been loved by a wonderful husband. Death comes, but her life was good. 

Some days I am not at peace with this. This disease is stealing my mom's dignity. It has already stolen her personality. It is wearing my Dad down. Alzheimer's is a shit disease. It's crap. 

I am torn - I want my mom's pain and indignity to end. I want relief for my Dad. And then I feel terrible for wishing this would end for her, because the end is undoubtedly death. How can I wish for that? Some would say there is heaven and peace that comes after death - and I do truly believe that is the case and yet....I only know earth. I only know life. My mom will go to this unknown place before me and I don't know how to feel about her going there - even though the Bible I believe in is clear that it's a good place. But something in me - maybe it's culture, maybe it's TV, maybe it's just humanity....but I fear her leaving life. 

Disease is a lonely thing. It isolates. Disease has separated my mom into the world of the unwell. It has added division or stumbling blocks to relationship. Mom's disease makes me feel isolated at times - I can feel distant from my family - I feel like my Dad and my sister are doing so much and I feel like I could never contribute to her care what they do. And yet they are both thankful for me and say I am doing enough - but it never feels that way. These situations lie to us - it's too hard to see reality and so we hide behind feelings, even wrong ones. I feel distant from those around us - we need more help! And yet even I as her daughter can't help her more, how could others? 

And at the same time I am closer to my family and those around than I have ever been. I have deep, strong relationships that I am truly grateful for. I wouldn't know how to survive this without them - without God. And I have both. 

I don't think there was a point to writing this - but today I am struggling. That's what's on my heart. Big changes are happening for my parents - big pain is around the corner. Big pain is happening now. In all of this I have faith - God is indeed a good God, I have seen His hand on my mothers life a thousand times and I don't believe He would stop being a good God because of one diagnosis. 

I love my mom. She has actively loved me my entire life - and even now when nothing about her is active, I know without a shadow of a doubt that she loves me as much as she is able. I am so thankful to have had a mom like that - even if she is different than other mom's. Always has been. So we will keep going - we will keep visiting, of course - we will keep praying. We will keep finding stories to tell to remind her of our lives together. We will pull facebook up on the iPad and show her all of your photos - "look mom, here is this childhood friend married - look how beautiful they look - here is another one, here is this persons baby. Look, these people moved to someplace neat". And we will believe that God is in this, because He is. Of that I am certain. 

And if you are a praying person we could certainly use your prayers - for my mom (for relief, for God's will to move in her life), for my Dad (for peace and help and for strength and for everything a full time caregiver needs), for my sister and I (that we would know how in the world to be a part of this whole thing and love my parents well - for peace for our hearts), and for doctors and government programs (that things would work in good time, and for my Mom's good). 

Love, T

Photo by Paraphrase Productions

*I've written about the topic of my Mom's Alzheimers here and here before*

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