My sweet Mother earned her angel wings this past Saturday following a long, grueling battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. There will be no more suffering; she is finally at peace. Now she is beautiful, free, and healthy, and we have a perfect guardian angel watching over us.

Something Spoke to Me

I’m grateful that my daughter and I were at her side right up to the moment she crossed over, and what an amazing experience that was. I can’t explain the feeling I had that morning, but it was a sense that I needed to be right there. I stepped out of the room for a few minutes, but something drew me back.

As I sat holding her hand and stroking her hair, I noticed an ever so slight change in her breathing. Apnea set in two days prior, but subsided. Now it was back, but with only about ten seconds between breaths. I can’t describe the new change I noticed, but I turned and called my daughter over.  Somehow I knew it was time for Mom to complete her journey. Less than thirty seconds later, she took her last breath.

It’s Time to Go

The moment of her departure was so absolutely clear. In a split second, her facial expression changed for the first time in days, and then she was gone. It was as though we could see her soul being plucked from its outer shell. I have never experienced anything like this in my life. I am so thankful that we were there holding her hand through the transition.

A day later, I’m somewhere between numb and raw. The tears come without warning, and I don’t think reality has completely set in. We’re busy with plans for her Celebration of Life, and I’m receiving beautiful messages from her friends and former co-workers, but I still can’t quite believe that my mother is gone.

Nine Long Years

In January, it will be nine years since we saw early signs of the dreaded disease that would eventually ravage the woman who had been my rock for over forty years. I can’t describe how painful it has been to watch her slip away day after day, month after month, and year after year. Alzheimer’s stripped her of her ability to communicate, take care of her own basic needs, and do all the things that she so enjoyed. It ripped her golden years away without remorse. It stole our mother and grandmother in the most cruel and callous way possible.

I don’t even remember life before Alzheimer’s, and I certainly don’t know what life will be like without it. I think we underestimate the mental and emotional toll the disease takes, even in the very early stages. I realize now that I’m exhausted. I feel like I could crawl into bed and sleep for six months. Eventually I’ll figure out what my new “normal” looks like, but I think it will take awhile.

Until We Meet Again

For now, I just want to embrace her memory and hold her so close to my heart. The thought that I won’t be going to visit tomorrow, that I won’t be able to hold her hand and see her smile, is almost too much to bear. Yet my heart also rejoices in the fact that she’s in a much better place now, reunited with her parents and dear sister. Pain free. And it’s true that someday, we will meet again. Until then…

10 Comments

  1. Natalie

    Thinking of you and Jess and sending prayers for you both!

  2. Debbi

    We lost our dad in very similar circumstances on Dec. 5. Dementia is truly awful, and we felt like it robbed him of his life years ago. Yes, it is so good to know he is at peace. We will see him again. It is comforting to know he is having a wonderful family reunion now. My mom is left behind to miss him, but we all know he is so much better off. His funeral was so lovely; full of family reminiscing, tears and much laughter. His death brought his family together, and I know he was just loving it!

    • Ann Napoletan

      Debbi, I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. It sounds like you were able to celebrate his life in a way he would have loved. I hope we can accomplish the same for my Mom. Blessings to your family… ~Ann

  3. Janet Garcia

    Ann my mother passed over on Oct. 25, 2012 after a long struggle with Alzheimers. What you described was exactly as I felt and still do feel, so many emotions but so overjoyed that she is with the love of her life, my dad after 12 long years apart. Although she was only diagnosed in 2007 my father confessed to a friend that he was afraid she was beginning to show symptoms before his death.

    I was privileged to care for my mother for the last 14 months of her life,this allowed us to do things together such as strawberry picking, shopping, seeing relatives that would not have been possible otherwise. Before this she was alive but after I came she was actually living which is a great comfort to me.

    Praying for all who have experienced this disease and their caregivers and praying for a cure – soon.

    Aloha
    Janet

    • Ann Napoletan

      Janet, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s wonderful to take comfort in the fact that your mom has been reunited with your dad… and they’ll be together forever. Glad you were able to spend that extra time with her before she passed – moments you will always treasure. May God Bless you and your family. ~Ann

  4. Judy Dunkel

    I lost my beautiful sister on Nov 30. She was a 60 year old downs syndrome adult who had suffered from Alzheimers for over ten years. While I knew the end was near, I wasn’t ready for her to go. We had a celebration of life, with many of her friends and acquaintances sharing their memories of her. I miss her so much, but I know that she no longer had any quality of life, and now she is reunited with her mother and dad, brother, and many others who have gone on. I was with her when she took her last breath and I felt her spirit leave the room. Christmas is going to be so lonely without her.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Judy, I’m so sorry for your loss. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that Mom is gone. I went to visit the ladies she lived with (in an ALZ family home) today – the house feels so empty. I was waiting for her to appear, but of course, she never did. I’m glad you were able to be with your sister right up until the end. For me, there was a bit of comfort in that… I felt like surely as soon as I let her go, there were angels waiting to accompany her the rest of the way… I know what you mean about Christmas… but, we have to remember they are in a beautiful place, free of pain… I am going to send you (email) a poem that a friend sent me. I think you might like it. Many blessings to you. ~Ann

  5. Sonia

    Thank you for the beautiful post. My mother has been sick for 11 years and while I feel so sad, frustrated and angry at this terrible disease, the thought of her not being here is so terrifying. I wish you and your family peace.

    • Ann Napoletan

      Thank you, Sonia. Enjoy each moment. I’d give anything to hold her hand one more time… Sending prayers to your family. ~Ann

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