Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Birthday

This is another sad post about my mom. Today's her birthday.

BTW, I have another post I'm working on about my trip to Rexburg, which was a really great experience. But before I finish that, I felt the desire to post what I wrote on my Mom's Facebook page today. It is so weird to write on the Facebook wall of a person who cannot read it, yet is still alive. I will never get over how strange that feels.
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You are 60 today Mom.

I have actually dreaded this birthday. A few years ago, when we really started to lose you, I had a horrifying, irrational wish (because that's how grief works): I hoped you would leave us completely before you turned 60. My reasons maybe make sense only to me--your child.

I wanted people to know.

I wanted, when I told this story, for people to understand how early you were taken from us. For some reason, the thought of saying you passed in your fifties made me feel like people would "get it." People would automatically say "Oh, that's so young! And such an unusual age to die of Alzheimer's..." Imagining being able to say you left us in your fifties made me feel that people would immediately recognize that what happened to you was traumatic and devastating. Whereas, it felt to me that saying 60 or 61 or 62 would lead people to think "Oh, she was elderly. It makes sense that she died of Alzheimer's, just like my grandma did."

They wouldn't know.

They wouldn't understand that you have been gone for so many years already--that you missed the end of your eldest child's twenties, and the end of your youngest child's teens. They wouldn't know that none of your grandchildren were able to meet you as *you* nor that so many will likely not meet you at all. They wouldn't understand that you were taken from us so early--decades before you were supposed to leave us. They wouldn't know that your own mother, at the age of 92, has a mind still largely functional--can still walk and talk and write and be witty. They wouldn't understand my loss for what it is.

I'm still not totally sure why that felt important to me. But it did.

And yet, now you are 60.

And instead of feeling cheated of some strange, grief-based numerical anecdote, I choose to feel grateful. I am grateful that I saw you last weekend, and that I was able to hug you, and that during the three days there was one moment of partial lucidity where you seemed to recognize me for who I am. I choose to be grateful I can still hug you tightly and feel your warmth--the same warmth that comforted me as a little child. I choose to be grateful that we are all still with you, learning from you. I choose to be grateful for the Lord and His timing--for surely if he knows the fall of the sparrow, he certainly knows when to take home a majestic, wonderful woman such as you.

I choose to trust that in the end, all will be made right--and that all that seems so broken and fractured and upended now will be rectified. I choose to celebrate you and all that you are. I choose to delight in the days or months or years you have with us, and I choose to savor these last remaining moments of your presence in my life on this planet. For, what a gift that is! Although you cannot speak, I choose to celebrate the pieces of you that remain: your neverendingly cheerful disposition; your laughter and your tears; and most of all, the shimmers of faith and gratitude that, through all the disaese, somehow break through, reminding me of the essence of your soul.

Happy birthday Mommy. May this year bring you many moments in which you can bask in the presence of those you love, and may it bring you anything else the Lord needs you, or us, to experience.

20 comments:

  1. I am so sorry for your pain and your loss. I don't really know what to say but I guess I just want you to know that I care.

    I can't wait to meet your mom in the next life. She sounds like quite the woman.

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  2. It is such an horrifying disease. You write about it so eloquently. It must be so devastating for your grandmother to see her child like that. Prayers for you and your family.

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  3. I get it. It's like people won't see the "early onset" part of the diagnosis if she makes it past this number that we have arbitrarily assigned as the beginning of "old." And early onset is, if anything, even more heartbreaking than a later onset of this horrible disease. I totally get it.

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  4. This must be so hard to go through! Thank you for sharing, though.

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  5. This must be so hard to go through! Thank you for sharing, though.

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  6. Sharing your grief allows others to learn how to process it. Your vulnerability and sorrow-sharing is a gift to many others. We love you, Josh.

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  7. I know, I understand completely what you wrote and why you feel this way.

    With tears in my eyes, I had to comment just so you knew there was someone out here that got it 1000%!

    I "lost" my mother in my teens, she passed away the month I turned 30 and she turned 60. I'm sorry and I am praying for you and yours.

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  8. I love you Josh!

    I am so grateful for your blogs and your willingness to share your intimate moments in life. I am sorry for your loss and I hope you and your loved ones find comfort in your time of need.

    Happy Birthday to Mrs. Weed!

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  9. Happy birthday to and Thank G-d for your mother, but I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

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  10. My son shares your mom's birthday. He was my third child. I have 4 children altogether. He unexpectedly died a year and a half ago at 5 months old. I don't know why I am sharing it with you. Except that I read your blog and I was surprised to see that he and she share a birthday. I'm glad you can see the positive things of still being able to touch and see and love her, and mourn with you too for your loss. All types of grief exist and it helps to always let it out and find people who will grieve and feel the pain with you. Those are true friends.

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  11. I thought I could make it through this party without crying. I can't think of a situation of mine that relates to yours now.

    But I read "Happy Birthday Mommy" and I thought of all the times I have worried about losing one of my children. A mother worries for her children. She doesn't want them to leave this earth before she does. And, although it could then be seen as "normal" for the mother to have this disease and go into a care facility, while her children remain healthy, I can just imagine how that mother's grief for her son is now reversed and put on your shoulders. It is a heavy burden and I will pray for you. Thank you for touching others' lives, for good, with your sincerity.

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  12. I really love you. And your mom. I love how you described her as majestic. And how you are grateful for her cheerfulness and faith.

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  13. Happy Birthday to you Mom. Thank you for sharing your experience with Alzheimer's. I'm going into Nursing and just learned about Early Onset Alzheimer's, so it's interesting that you wrote about this. It's nice to see your perspective as a child with a parent suffering with this. Thank you.

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  14. Josh, don't give up. We love to read your blog and hope to see lots more.

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  15. Josh, I work with your mom at the assisted living facility where she lives. She loves you so incredibly much. I wish you could see how excited she gets when you come to visit or when your father speaks of you. She knows, even if she doesn't remember.

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  16. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. I lost my mom to early-onset alzheimers 4 years ago. I remember sitting with her and knowing that despite the fact that she couldn't speak she knew who I was still. I'm sorry you're going through this. It really does suck. It sounds like you are doing everything right though in cherishing moments with her as much as you can.

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  18. Josh, this is such a late comment, as I haven't visited here in a while (which I will repent of--I have missed reading your wonderful blog), but this is just so beautiful. Tears. You are such a grand soul and a wonderful son to your mother--truly majestic.

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  19. With all my heart I wish you many happy returns here of the day! Let all your fond dreams, hopes and expectations come true in your new year. I wish you always to have cheerful mood, good health, strength to resist difficulties and patience, big success in all your dealings and great personal happiness! Thank you for the bright light you give me! Thank you for your being in this world! Happiness and good luck! Happy birthday!

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  20. My Wish for you on Your Birthday is you are PARTYOPEDIA
    and will always be Happy and Healthy! Don’t every Change. - Happy Birthday

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