To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart,
and sing it to them when they have forgotten.*
The movie Still Alice haunts me to my core and yet every time I watch it, I glean more insight and my heart breaks open a bit more. And still, I continue to watch it when I am alone. Why, you may ask? Why would you make yourself sad intentionally? Isn’t it hard enough to experience your family enduring the road that Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia have put us on? And the answer is yes.
But, I search for answers. I find power within when I allow myself to feel each character’s pain. It may sound funny to you, but I can relate to Alice, to her husband, to her daughters, all in different times in my life, and at times, simultaneously. My compassion for the characters and for my family members increases every time I watch the movie.
I am compassionate and I love deeply. This is who I am. I need to understand how to best serve my family and how to best serve myself. I have an ache in my core which carries my courage to push me to accept the unacceptable and to hold that precious gift of time, of making memories that may never stay and of holding the hands and hearts with those who at some point, may never remember who I am nor who they are. It’s like I hold a flickering candle which I desperately protect in my soul. I hold my candle in the darkness, like a beacon, hoping for that twinge of awareness, even if it is only for a moment. I will feel like I did my best. For I can’t give up on them or on myself.
I grieve in the quiet moments of solitude for them and for myself. I call daily, visit monthly and spend hours making sure all their needs are met. I do it with love and compassion and courage for it’s hard. But it’s necessary and I make myself do those things that are necessary even when I want to turn away from the truth.
I learned long ago from cancer, that our lives are constantly changing and that we need to find a new normal with each and every experience. We either choose to grow with the experience or we choose to stagnate. We can turn our backs on the experience or we can move out of our comfort zones to find the courage to accept what we deem unacceptable and take baby steps towards a new normal.
I choose courage. To look at my life with gratitude. To be grateful for the opportunity to help my family. To be kinder to myself, more patient and more present. To sing the song in my heart and to have the courage to shine my heartlight even in the darkest night. Come join me…take my hand and let’s sing and…
*Photo credit: FB Alzheimer’s Awareness