[notice]A new, monthly column by Vivienne Solomons who is a legal consultant who passionately believes that God wants His people to make a difference right where they are and to stand up for what is true and just. She is also passionate about encouraging young women to walk victoriously with God and she is engaged in a challenging faith journey as a parent of a child with special needs.[/notice]
Present but absent
When I look back now, the signs were already there years ago, hiding in plain sight. My mother had become increasingly withdrawn, and as a result, disconnected from life and relationships. It didn’t help that she was also fearful, easily confused and unable to string a complete sentence together due to the constant elusiveness of one or two critical words. Slowly, the feisty woman who chased after what she wanted until she realised her goal disappeared. Such is the progression of the disease. My mother slipped away from us little by little until one day she was all but gone. And that is where she remains until today. Present with us but unable to communicate how she feels or what she is thinking in a way that we can understand and in a way that makes a fulfilling relationship possible. Alzheimer’s has rendered her unable to care for herself, immobile and without dignity as we know it. Yet God, in His wisdom, has seen fit to keep her here with us a little longer. Although that would not be my mother’s choice. I know.
With time, I have come to accept the fact that opportunities to spend ‘meaningful’ time together are limited, if not altogether gone. We cannot do life together. I cannot make a telephone call to her simply when I feel like it. Instead, I find myself in the untenable position of grieving her loss while she is yet still alive. For the woman I know and everyone remembers has seemingly disappeared from our reach, while we stand by helplessly, powerless to halt the progress of the disease.
As hard as this reality may be what I find perhaps more difficult to accept is the fact that we did not have a chance to say what we needed to say, to resolve issues that to this day remain outstanding between us and which, to a greater or lesser extent, we carry with us in our hearts. There is so much I would like to say to my mother. To forgive and to receive forgiveness. To bring closure. To make peace. Alzheimer’s has robbed us of this. As is human nature, I always thought we would have the opportunity to talk and make things right between us – when the time was right.
Important life truths
But as much as Alzheimer’s has taken from me and my family, I have to acknowledge the fact that it has also caused me to revisit some important truths about life:
- That life is for living and for sharing with those around me. I was created for meaningful relationship, both with my Maker and with others.
- That I should not take people’s presence in my life for granted. I need to take time to let them know how much I appreciate them, and often.
- That love should be unconditional and forgiveness should not be delayed. This is God’s standard, and it makes for an abundant and fulfilling life.
- That it is important to take time to appreciate the small things. Life cannot be put on hold until I am ready or have achieved this or that. Each day is to be valued and celebrated for what it is.
- That it is acceptable to be impulsive and seize the moment, from time to time. I need to be more flexible and give myself permission to do things on the spur of the moment, as the opportunity arises.
- That God is to be trusted even when life seems unfair and there are no easy answers. There are some things that I cannot understand in the here and now but that does not change the fact that God is a good God Whose thoughts toward me are good and Who desires to see me prosper in every area of my life.