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Hard Holidays

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu

This photo is from this year’s Christmas card.  It’s all I had the energy for.  Every time I sat down to write a blog the last several weeks, I’d go blank.  My heart wells up, so do the tears.

I am not fond of this time of year for obvious reasons.  Sadness bubbles to the surface, then anger.  It’s from watching my mother deteriorate daily.  It’s handling this alone.  It’s noticing that something else is no longer part of our lives, whether it’s the type of conversation we have, how she reacts to something, how her appearance is changing, or that she’s picked up a new, odd character trait, like a new hat, for instance, that she wears all the time.  I keep waiting for the mismatched socks, or sun glasses, to appear and be worn 24/7. However, fortunately, we’re not there quite yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a pity party.  I live with these feelings every day while putting one foot in front of the other.  It’s just that the holidays seem to magnify the changes, the deterioration and the pain.

Every year I wonder if this is the last holiday I will have with Mom.  I don’t know how this Christmas will unfold. I just know that it will, and I will roll with whatever happens. 

Thanksgiving Day, Mom was here about 5 hours.  She was back at her apartment by 3pm thinking she’d been here for 3 days.  So I don’t know how Christmas Eve and Day will go.  I’ve planned the time so that she can spend the night, but who knows, i.e., picking her up late this afternoon in time for cocktail hour and dinner, then bedtime.  We will have Christmas morning together, a huge breakfast, and then she will nap, wake up and think she’s been here several days. She then may be ready to go back to her apartment where she will slip away, back into her familiar routine and surroundings and forget about Christmas and the prior 36 hours.

I’m not sure how I’ll be after all of this. Every occasion is different.  Sometimes I come home and not skip a beat and go on with the day.  Sometimes I curl up in her unmade bed and fall apart.  The dogs see this and try to console my soul. They jump on the bed, put their head somewhere on my body, and just quietly be.  I’m sure if they could, they’d bring in a boozed-up Eggnog, or a Hot Toddy, wrap biscuits, bones or a Kong in colorful holiday bows to offer as a cheer-me-up.  Thanksgiving I had a surprise visit from a friend, where I laughed and was happy.  Maybe Santa and his reindeer will appear this year?

Outside of the sadness and anger that Alzheimer’s triggers with the holidays, I do not take for granted my time with Mom.  As difficult as they are, the time with her is still loving and bittersweet, and I am grateful I have another holiday with her.

I’m sorry this is not one of my better writings.  I feel fractured in many places and have broken down several times writing this.  So that’s it for me today…

What Is True For Me: 

There are no rules for us caregivers at any time, on any given day, much less the holidays.  Just do the best you can with your loved one and for yourself.  Forgive yourself, forgive Life and its difficult, shitty circumstances right now.  Use the courage I know you have, to be brave, but know it is perfectly okay to give in to your pain and lose it.

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