Today is my Mom’s birthday. If you’re a friend of mine, you’ll know my Mom passed peacefully in April.
However, I lost my Mom a few years earlier, as her struggles with Alzheimer’s disease increased. Alzheimer’s gets called “the long goodbye” but it’s not even as decent as that. It’s a stolen goodbye, a missed goodbye, as the person you love dissolves in unseen pieces until they’re completely gone. It’s impossible to pinpoint, even to the year, when your last conversation with them may have been.
I hear from friends whose parents are enduring this long, debilitating illness and realize there are so many things nobody tells you about Alzheimer’s, and there’s something comforting to know. On the other side, there is this beautiful and unexpected gift — when the person you’ve loved so much for so long is waving back at you, exactly as you had hoped and smiles.
Grieving her now, when the loss is complete, feels nothing like I had expected. It feels easy knowing on the other side of the sadness and loss, the person who had so subtly and completely slipped away has sprung back to life in my mind. My mother is smiling, engaging, capable, and hilariously entertaining, and these happy memories make me smile.
Unexpectedly tears well up as I wish “Barbara” a happy birthday and listen for the sound of her voice whispering, “Thank you Donna” ❤️