Recently my grandmother was diagnosed with Stage 6 Alzheimer's, a change in her original diagnosis. For the past couple of years we have watched a beautiful southern woman, full of grace and charm, drift away. The vibrant woman I spent every Sunday with, no longer knows who I am. After being told on Monday that they had changed her diagnosis from dementia to Stage 6 Alzheimer's, I began to do some research. What I found was devastating and heartbreaking. I couldn't breathe. My grandmother is dying and we can't save her.
A flood of memories. Tears. A smile. More tears.
I started thinking about the long goodbye ahead of us. The uncertainty and fears that creep into my thoughts like a bad nightmare. My questions linger longer that I'd like them to and I'm left wondering if knowing the end is near is better than not knowing at all. I begin wondering if I'm strong enough and if I'm not...
Prayers. I asked my mother, how she was able to keep it together at the end of her mother's battle with cancer and schizophrenia. She told me she would pray the entire way to the hospital and then cry the whole way home. I nodded, fighting back tears, and then a connection I had never considered was made. My grandmother was "deploying", only this time, she wouldn't come home.
Now, I can handle this. There will be days that it will be a fight to get out of bed, knowing she will soon be drifting farther away. I'll ignore the fact that she's almost gone and then wish I had spent more time with her. After spending more time with her I'll think that it wasn't nearly enough. I'll cry and then hide my pain behind big glasses and a wide smile. And I'll pray. I'll pray for her to leave with dignity and grace and when she does, I'll be proud. I will be sad she's gone, but I will be proud.
I imagine that my care package will come in the form of hugs and family dinners. We will pour ourselves over pictures and laugh about the times we shared with her. There will be tears, but we'll recall the times we cherished most and we will be proud to have had her in our lives.
*Every time a loved one finds themselves facing another deployment, it feels as if it's a long goodbye. The questions race through your head, the fear and doubt linger, and you want nothing more than to ignore the inevitable. Be that care packae to someone else. Donate your time, resources, money. It doesn't have to be here. Just go out and be there for someone facing a deployment. Chances are, they need you more than you could imagine.