Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier’… ~Alfred Tennyson
Here we are, on the dawn another new year; it’s incredible how quickly time passes. In what seems like the blink of an eye, 365 days have passed and we’re another year older and hopefully a bit wiser as well.
This past year has been a mixed bag, but ushering out 2012 feels more bittersweet than usual. I witnessed my mom’s boundless deterioration and thinking back, I’m amazed at the difference those twelve little months made. Less than a year ago, it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that she would live another ten years. Sure, her mind had been failing for a long time, but her body remained relatively healthy.
Alas, ten more years was not meant to be; nor was ten more months. In September we saw a marked decline, and though things seemed to improve slightly in November, that didn’t last. By Thanksgiving, it was apparent that we were transitioning into yet another stage – perhaps the final.
No Way to Prepare
When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, we know how the story will end. What we don’t realize is what watching them slowly slip away, day by day and bit by bit, will do to us. Mom had not been well for so long, and there were times in recent years when I thought I was prepared for this moment. I thought I had mourned her over and over again, year after year, until there was nothing left to let go of. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
So many years to prepare, yet still, her passing left a massive void in my heart. Oddly, I find myself filled with a deep yearning for old times – for the years before the illness consumed our lives; times that, in a way, I guess I had put out of my mind while the disease progressed. Now I need some time to work through all of those emotions, and I want to find a way to do that without spending too much time in the past.
I’d like to get to a point where 2013 does feel like a new start, where I’m at peace with the fact that Mom is in a better place, free of pain and suffering. I want to make this coming year about honoring her legacy and keeping her memory alive, whether through writing, spending time with Alzheimer’s patients, or passionately advocating for families and caregivers. While looking back is, to some degree, inevitable, I will continue to remind myself that she would want me to look ahead; to focus my energy on what life has in store.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of making New Year’s resolutions, but I do like the idea of the New Year provoking an awakening of sorts. Call it a reminder that there’s more to life than plodding through the same dull routine day after day. Life is really about finding purpose, staying inspired, figuring out why we’re here and how we can make the world just a little bit better.
We’d love to hear what some of your goals and aspirations are for 2013! Feel free to share in the Comments section below.