A year ago today was the last time I heard my husband say my name coherently. It was a year ago I sat with him and wondered how much longer I could go on. I thought about him struggling to speak, shuffling as he walked, wearing a catheter and briefs, starting to have trouble feeding himself, and selfishly, I was worried about finances and impacts on me and the kids and wondered how long it would be before Alzheimer’s Disease eventually took him. I figured I still had lots of time.
I found out the heartbreaking answer just a few days later when I got the call he was “actively passing”.
I have learned so much in the past year. I have learned about friendships. I have learned about empathy and kindness and I have also learned about selflessness and selfishness. I have learned about the kind of loss you think you understand until you actually live it. I have felt an emptiness inside of me that I didn’t know could exist or was possible. I felt a perpetual sadness that there is nothing in this world to compare to or which can lighten. The only relief is sleep, but then you wake up.
Guilt is so ingrained in me I can’t remember a time it wasn’t part of my being. I have felt helpless as I watched my kids mourn their father. I have buried my husband and yet I still cry for him, long for him, ache for him and miss him. Terribly. I thought I had cried as much as possible before he died. I was wrong. My eyes now have dark eyelids and seem to be constantly swollen.
Yes, a year ago I was struggling to be a caregiver and a mother and somehow keep myself sane. Now I am struggling to recall all of the memories I am terrified of losing and a few I should probably forget. And now I face the challenge of a future alone, without Jim and starting all over. It is like being fresh out of college and trying to decide a path that will best lead me forward to whatever my future holds. My passion is Alzheimer’s Advocacy and education. That is what I do best and I what I want to do. It just doesn’t pay all the bills.