As I sit with my mom who had a stroke this past February I wonder how long will she be here with us in the state she is in?
You see she has dementia.
There I said it.
She can't walk on her own.
She can't go to the bathroom on her own.
It is hard for her to feed herself.
She needs constant supervision.
It is true, I have been in a little bit of denial hoping we would see more progress by now.
She is in and out of dementia but more in it these days.
This is something my mom was afraid of her whole life. She made it very clear to me and my siblings that she was afraid this would happen to her.
When I visit her almost daily, I sometimes stare at her and think is she joking with me?
It is still so hard to believe the state she is in.
When she speaks words I can't understand or tries to communicate things I don't get, it is hard.
It is so much harder for her than for me for sure.
I stare at every wrinkle on her face.
I stare at her one eye that is half way closed due to bells palsy she had over 40 years ago.
I stare at her hands the most. They are so beautiful and soft.
I stare at her arms and notice all the bruises or marks she has due to the meds she is on.
I love when she smiles really big.
I have never really spent this much time with my mother since I was a young girl.
I have never been her caregiver, ever.
I am her caregiver now.
I notice so much more details spending nearly every single day with her for 9 months.
I came from a divorced family and since I was about 12 years-old I haven't been with my mom consistently.
It was a rocky road growing up at times, but we all tried our best.
No matter what the past held, I am living today to help love and honor my mother because she is my mother.
I love my mother so much.
I respect my mother more than ever before.
The more I snuggle with her...
The more I stare at her face...
The more I make her laugh and act silly...
The more I hold her hand...
The more hugs and kisses I give her...
The more I call her friends and sisters...
The more I love my mother.
In the last weeks I have been so weary and tired and thinking "How can we keep doing this and helping her?"
I have wondered how long will this go on for, how many days/years does my mom have left on this earth?
I realized as I wondered about these things that I have a precious gift.
No matter how hard it is everyday.
No matter how I can't understand what she is saying.
No matter how at times I feel stressed with all the responsibilities
that come with caring for someone that can't care for themselves.
No matter how tired I may get.
I want to take in everyday I have with my mom whether it is days, months, or years because these days are a gift.
These days are precious if I choose to look at it that way instead of feeling the burden of all her needs.
Tomorrow I am starting a new outlook on how I help my mom and how I help others. I will take in the joy of the precious moments. It is a privilege and honor to be the person in their lives they trust and lean on to help them when they are at their most vulnerable. I can only hope if I were in this state that someone I love would do the same for me. By the way, I love Reeses and Chocolate Caramel if you really want to know:)
So make a choice today, if you are caring for a loved one and feel at the end of your rope and are weary remember this: Try and find joy in the tough days too, not just the better days.
Stop and stare.
Stop and breathe.
Stop and love.
Stop and feel.
You may have to look a little harder, but you can always find joy in every single day. It is a choice to dig deep and look. It is there, trust me. It is there.