#ENDALZ, Life Lessons

Sometimes we just aren’t prepared

There are times in life when we think we are fully prepared for what is to come- good or bad. Having a child- major life milestone- the moment when you know he or she is the one.

Before having the boys I imagined both how hard the experience was going to be and how amazing it would be to hold them for the very first time. Truth be told the experience wasn’t as hard as I imagined- but the feeling of absolute awe of the medical staff and quite honestly of my body remains. And there is nothing that compares with that first look, that first hold of your newborn baby. But then I think back to when we were expecting our second child. How on earth could I possibly love this child as much as my first, the one who made me a mother. Well, you know what when he was born my heart doubled in size and I love them equally- we used to say to the moon and back but now have progressed to Pluto and back, because according to my sons that’s even further so that means I love them even more. Truth be told there is NO way I could love them more. I’m grateful each and every day that I get to be there mother. Yes, even on the hard days!!

Think about other milestone experiences. Going to college- taking board exams- getting married. Generally we think we know how good or bad these experiences are going to be. Going to college- initially a huge adjustment- but life changing. I met my husband there and as they say “the rest is history.” The Bar Exam- I imagined it would be terrible- it was somehow even worse than I had even imagined it would be- but I survived. Hard experiences give us new perspective, a new understanding of what is important.

As we get older the experiences change and evolve. Our kids start to grow, as they are supposed to. They need us differently- they go to school. How exciting for them and they have loved it from the very beginning. I cry every single first day of school. No idea why. But I still do.

There are times in life when we are unprepared for for the emotions that come with an experience. You can see all the signs and know what is coming, but yet the experience still stops us in our tracks. Years ago we knew that the Alzheimer’s diagnosis was coming for my dad. Even though he was still in his 50s all the signs were there. Yet, having confirmation still hurt. It was scary to know what was to come. When you have a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it is a matter of just waiting for when things start to decline and then decline more rapidly. People are kind and ask how he’s doing- and as the years go on there’s a status quo and then the point when you know things are just going to continue to get worse. There is no real way to answer the question when people ask. The whole time you know the end game. They aren’t going to get better…ever. And then even though you’ve known it was going to come some day the some day comes and it’s time to say goodbye. There is nothing in your life that prepares you to say goodbye to a parent. No book you can read, no other experience you can have to prepare you. It’s raw, it hurts, there’s an ache to my core.

My dad took a sharp decline on Sunday. We had a truly heartfelt goodbye via FaceTime. He’s in Arizona and I’m in Maryland. He told me it was time to “take a rest from his rest and not to be upset”. He told me that he loved me. I ugly cried. I knew that was going to be the best last conversation I could hope for given his condition. But yesterday morning I just knew I needed to go to see him. I honestly didn’t know if I was going to make it in time, but I had to try. So today I boarded a flight at 6:45 AM in Maryland and landed in Arizona before 9:00 AM. I got to spend several hours with my dad. I held his hand. I cried. I told him that I loved him and then the time came to give him one last hug. There have been previous times that we thought were going to be the last time I saw him, but this was it. The very last time. There are no words to describe the feeling.

I realize that for some they never get the chance to say goodbye and in many respects I’m “fortunate,” but you’ll excuse me if I’m not feeling too fortunate right now. I still can’t understand the why my dad had to get Alzheimer’s. Why someone who worked so hard all their life had to have their life cut so short by this dreadful disease. I know I will keep working, running and fighting for a cure that someday others don’t have to suffer this way. We have to and can do better- we must #endalz.