I Blog For Books

20 July 2013

Closing A Chapter

I received a short text message from my brother yesterday while I was at the gym. It literally stopped me in my tracks, and it consisted of only four words: "house in realtor's hands." This was the final step in a journey that began in January of this year and took a definitive turn in May. Our decisions were not made lightly, nor were they made without many hours of thought and tearful discussion. What it boils down to in the end, however, is one simple fact: it still hurts. 

Dementia is a viciously ugly disease. It knows no restrictions and can affect anyone. There is no known cure. A year ago, I would have nodded my head in sympathy, while quietly giving thanks that it wasn't me and mine. Seven months ago, it became mine. Not that we didn't suspect, or sometimes have that feeling that something just wasn't right ... but to have those thoughts and feelings confirmed is still a hateful blow. The questions began. The self-doubt began, and still, to some extent, continues. "Did we do the right thing?"

As I pulled into the parking lot at the nursing home, she turned and looked at me and stated "I'm not going here." When I put my truck in park, she crossed her arms reminiscent of Samantha and stated "I'm not getting out. You can't make me." I unbuckled her seat belt. She buckled it back. Strangely, that was the first time in months that she had fastened a seat belt without difficulty. "I'm not going." I don't know what my face looked like, but apparently there was this pleading "Help Me!" written across it. My brother opened the passenger door, and when she turned to tell him she wasn't getting out, he simply looked at her and said "Come on, mama." I unbuckled her seat belt and she slowly got out of the vehicle, walking beside him. My sister and I fell into step, our pace speaking volumes about the heartbreaking decision we had made.

When we got inside, one of the aides from the unit came down the hall and put her arm around mama. She began making conversation with her, and gently led her down the hall. We watched, and wondered. Paperwork, conversation, paperwork, questions. Then you walk away, hoping against hope that you have not made a mistake. Logically, you know you haven't. Emotionally, you feel like a traitor. You feel as if you have abandoned the one person who would never abandon you.

Emptying the house was a lengthy, painful process. What to keep? What to do with what you don't keep? There were many, many items found that made us stop, look at each other and say "Huh?" Memories unfolded, time and time again. The realization that she is never again going to come home, never again going to live in this house is overwhelming.  How do you say goodbye?

I'm going home in a couple of weeks. I haven't decided whether or not I will drive by the house. I don't know how I"ll handle it. Where will we sit around the table and drink coffee at all hours of the day or night? Where will we all get together and visit? Will we even get together and visit anymore? How do I explain it to my granddaughter when I don't feel like I fully comprehend it myself? I"m almost 50 years old. I have my own home, have children and grandchildren of my own. But mama's house isn't mama's house anymore.

Lord, I ask for strength and peace. For all of us. We are fond of saying that "we have two choices: laugh or cry. We choose to laugh." Please, help us to find the laughter.

"the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."~Numbers 6:25-26 NIV