Unless you’re a brand new visitor to my blog (and if you are, welcome!), you know that I cared for my parents for many years and that they both went home to be with the Lord in the last couple of years. Dad passed away on May 13, 2011, and Mom followed him on May 20 of this year. I was close to both of them, but especially to Mom, and on May 30 I wrote a post about how much I miss her. It’s become my most popular post, getting almost 1,800 views to date, almost three times as many as my previous favorite about why old people smell bad.
Mom and I talked almost every day throughout my life, but Alzheimer’s stole that away long before she actually died. In my previous post I talked about how much I missed those talks, but there are so many other ways I miss her. When she first moved from my home into assisted living, I missed her presence in the back seat of the car. It wasn’t the emotional kind of missing that makes your heart hurt but rather a something’s-not-there kind of missing, more like what I imagine an amputee might feel when he or she experiences phantom pain. It was nice not to have to worry about anyone’s seatbelt but my own, and it was even nicer not to have to answer repeated questions about where we were going, why, and when we would get there, but there was still the occasional feeling that I needed to turn around and check to be sure she was okay.
Special occasions are hard, too, especially the first ones. Her birthday in September was difficult, Christmas preparations are tinged with sadness as I realize there is one less name on the gift list this year and Mother’s Day will be lonely next year. I’ve been through a lot of loss of my own, though, and I’ve counseled and comforted others in their times of loss, so I know what to expect. But there is one unexpected time when I miss Mom – when I pray.
The other night I was lying in bed, praying silently. There were no soaring, inspiring words; it was more of a now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep kind of prayer, whispered in the recesses of my mind as I hovered in the limbo between wakefulness and sleep. When I got to the God bless… part, I remembered friends and family who are going through physical and emotional struggles, and as I edged closer to that drop-off into the abyss, I thought God, please be with Mom. Suddenly my mind jerked me back from the brink. Wait a minute. Mom is already there, in the place where there is no pain, no tears, no sorrow. Even in my foggy state of mind, I felt not only a sense of gratitude but also a sense of emptiness and loss – gratitude that Mom has passed beyond her confusion and suffering but emptiness because of the loss of a special kind of connection. I carry her memory with me always, and I believe I will be reunited with her when my time comes, but for now she no longer needs my prayers. I felt God smiling indulgently at His sleepy child, and I smiled sheepishly in return. Well, I sighed just before I slipped into unconsciousness, can You please tell her hello and that I love her.
- Mom’s Fears | by Linda Brendle (lifeaftercaregiving.wordpress.com)
- Celebrating Caregivers | by Linda Brendle (lifeaftercaregiving.wordpress.com)
- Bringing Alzheimer’s Out of the Closet | by Linda Brendle (lifeaftercaregiving.wordpress.com)