Tonight I walked into an empty house. 

After this night, and others that were much worse, with screams, and fists, and chases, and physical restraints, and bruises, and drinks (hot and cold) thrown at me, I made the decision to move Mom to memory care. Memory care is sort of a modern day euphemism for Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. It’s a locked facility about 30 minutes south of here, and when I toured it, it instinctively felt like a home, not an institution. I liked the staff; I placed a deposit. 

Yesterday I took artwork, kitchen items, hanging clothes, pictures, linens. Anything I could easily fit in my car. I spent the day cleaning, measuring, hanging artwork and photos, and envisioning where furniture could go. Today we had a plan. A solid plan. I thought. 

Movers would show up between noon and 6 pm. My sister, Ashley, along with Mom’s caretaker, would leave the house at noon and go to CVS to have Mom’s TB test read. They would go to lunch at Mom’s favorite restaurant, and then meet me at her Alzheimer’s doctor’s office at 2 pm. After the appointment, I would go to Mom’s new home and finish setting up, so that when Ashley dropped her off tomorrow, everything would be set up. Ashley and Mom would go on an “adventure” and spend the night at a hotel, so that she wouldn’t see the things gone from our home. A dear friend agreed to be on call in case the movers came around the time I needed to go to the doctor’s appointment (they did). When she arrived around 1 pm; I was wiping away tears. With compassion, she asked, “Why are you crying?” 

I’ve thought about that question all day. 

I’m crying because I tried and it didn’t work.

I’m crying because I’m watching the brain of someone I love deteriorate, slowly.

I’m crying because trying and willpower and enthusiasm and optimism are no match for Alzheimer’s.

I’m crying because I’ve built a life with Mom. A life with challenges, but a life I’m very grateful for that I won’t have anymore.

I’m crying because it pains me to see others in pain, and she’s so tormented by false memories. She thinks Dad is still alive, and he’s left her for another woman, and she’s trying to lure him back. 

I’m crying because I’m grieving the loss of my last surviving parent. She’s physically still alive, and yet I feel I’ve lost her. 

I’m crying because I wonder if I gave up too early.

I’m crying because it’s all I know how to do right now.

30 thoughts on “Crying

  1. Oh Lori ❤️ I am crying because my dear friend is aching and I am so far away. I can’t stop because I am imaging if that was my situation. How would I feel? Exactly the same. You have not made this decision lightly and horrible as it is, that is what is best for her, and you. Sending you love ❤️

  2. Dearest Lori, this process is merciless but I hope you remind yourself that you stretched to (and past) the outer limits of what is possible, and the disease naturally presents challenges that require more help. I send you sympathy and much love. I am grateful that you have this wonderful period before this to remember; you gave yourselves a lovely home and wonderful experience prior to this chapter.

  3. Blessings as you begin to adjust to your newly-quiet home. May it begin to feel less like emptiness and more like peace. And may you find yourself looking back and seeing all the many ways it DID work, not forever and not perfectly, but well and for quite a long time. May you feel the comfort of all you were able to do, all you were willing to do. And may the love, the strength, the courage, the creativity, the patience you were able to access for her sake surround and sustain YOU.

  4. Sending our love, Lori. I don’t have the words to make this easier – because nothing about this is easy. I hope that you can feel our love, support, and know how inspired we all are bearing witness to your courage.

  5. Hi Lori,
    Do not be alone. What you experienced is your response to being aware, of being a loving person and of being helpless when we are not supposed to be. I co-chaired Michigan’s task force on Alzheimer’s and related disorders a few years ago and listened, week after week, to scores of wounded and disappointed caregivers who tried to sweep back the sea. The sea usually wins and our fragile and vulnerable selves are revealed to be mortal after all. Life is too short, too quickly erased, and too often assumed to be durable. Our minds, those invisible parts of our being, can fail as well as our lungs or hearts. Your experience simply, and profoundly, shows how important it is to treasure each day.

    Richard Douglass, Tawas City, Michigan

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