I received a text today from my sister Lisa saying that Mom has been really struggling for the past five days.
From what we can tell, she's entered Stage Seven of Alzheimer's, which is the final stage.
She won't take her pills anymore. It takes two people to lift her. She doesn't remember how to brush her teeth, and she spends most of the day sleeping or staring off into space. She isn't "there" anymore.
I called my sister Susan, who was with her today, and I tried to talk with Mom on the phone for just a few moments. My mom said, "Hi April!" really enthusiastically, but then she withdrew back into herself and couldn't say anything else.
But tomorrow is Thursday, and that's my day to be with her.
It's also Halloween, so Eric is going to come with me, and we're going to take these four cuties with us:
The plan is to eat dinner at my parents' house and then lift Mom into the wheelchair so she can go trick-or-treating with us for a little while.
Eric suggested I simply enjoy my time with my mom and stop pointing out the "lasts," but I can't stop thinking that this will probably be our last Halloween together.
Once the trick-or-treating is over, Eric is going to take the children home, and then I'm going to get to stay the night at my parents' house and fly to New York the following morning for the Power of Moms Retreat (which I'm really excited about . . . but I think it's okay to be excited about one thing and sad about another thing at the same time).
I'm sure the events over the next few days will work out fine, but oh, it's been a hard evening for me.
I'm uploading documents to pick up at the Kinko's in New York and cleaning off my camera for tomorrow, but I just keep breaking down. I know life has to come to a close for everyone, and I know my mom needs a release from this heartbreaking disease. I just don't think there's going to ever be a point where I'll be ready to say goodbye. (Those of you who have gone through this . . . were you EVER ready?)
My children can sense how hard this is for me. They keep hugging me and kissing me and saying, "Mom, everything is going to be okay."
We listened to an audiobook tonight, and I spent a few minutes tickling each of their backs before tucking them in bed. It's a little hard to describe, but I feel like I'm mothering in slow motion--paying close attention to every sweet facial expression, every precious interaction, and every memory we're making. I keep thinking that perhaps if I love my children as fully as I can, maybe my mom will be able to feel it--and know that all her years teaching me and nurturing me and being there for me were worth the effort.
I miss her so much. So, so much. But I get to live every single day smack dab in the middle of my own family. And this life of ours--as imperfect as it may be--is breathtakingly beautiful.
So that's where things stand today.
Thanks--again--for being with me through this.