i was just trying to be brave like you

I was just trying to be brave like you

I sit down in front of her as she grabs my hands. She looks at me with a big gaze. I look back into her eyes, trying my best to hold back the tears. She wants to speak to me; at least this is what I believe. She has something to say, I just know it, but I think the words have slipped from her mind. I stay focused, trying not to cry. The awkward moment is enough to make anyone sob.

I stay focused on not crying by breaking up the moment with encouraging words, telling her that she is loved and missed. I don't want to shed a tear and let on to her that I am sad about her situation. It's as though it would make it worse for her if I brought attention to her condition.

I didn't come alone. My brother and mother came with me. My brother is trying not to cry as well. I think he is better at not crying than I am. My mother's eyes are getting red and tearing up. This in return makes me do the same. I notice my weakness coming on so I quickly turn my observation into thoughts about the science behind mirror neurons, which explains why I am feeling more of an urge to cry, why babies learn to imitate parents, and why yawning is catchy in a group of people. 

Whew! That helped for a little bit. The distraction helped long enough for me to leave the grasp of her cold frail hands and change the room's mood into something halfway more positive-this was my contribution in supporting the three of us during our visit.

My mother, brother, and I continue to make small chat in the room about positive things or offbeat subjects such as the nursing home's decor. The idle chat doesn't help. I know what the three of us are feeling and thinking. Guiltily and in denial, we leave in a hurry before we start crying in the room together.
My visits are rare. I feel as guilty as hell about it, but I'm too weak to face her. I cannot tolerate the sadness. It's hard enough to write this article without crying for her. Every time I think of her, I become teary-eyed or, if I'm alone, I will outright cry for her suffering.

Trying to Be Brave

I do not have one bad memory of that woman. She is human and I am sure that she has made mistakes in her lifetime, as we all do. Nevertheless, my life experience with her has been full of nothing other than unconditional love, care, and kindness. To me, she has always been a beacon of hope, love, and encouragement. Maybe this is why I feel guilty for not visiting as often as I should because it is my turn to be a beacon of hope, love, and encouragement. Sadly, I am too weak.

My grandmother has Alzheimer's and to top it off, her health is failing. The saddest part about this experience is that she is hanging on, rightfully so, yet with her mind gone. This is a bizarre experience, as I wonder if there is any conscious awareness left in her during this time of suffering.
The worst part of her condition is that she is slowly dying from old age with serious physical impairments-all in addition to Alzheimer's disease. One example is that she lies in her bed, curled up in a ball, quietly murmuring words that make no sense while she is fed through tubes that are connected to her abdomen because she has forgotten how to chew and swallow.
As I mentioned, this is an extremely tough experience for me. However, I know that there are worse things to endure. I thank God that I haven't had to endure any more than this experience with my grandmother.

I have an acquaintance on Facebook whose daughter has Cystic Fibrosis. She was sharing a story on her Facebook status today about her daughter's home medical equipment not functioning properly. Every now and then, my acquaintance's Facebook status will have something to do with her daughter in the hospital on this day or doing well on that day. Every time I read this in the status updates, my heart goes out to her and her daughter. To me, those two girls are heroes.

A few months ago, a great man passed into the divine realms of this creation. He had lived a good life, he was a war hero, raised a good family, and had done many great things for others. Unfortunately, Larry had to make one last fight before he left and though Larry left... I think he kicked cancer's ass. When I last saw Larry, it was as though he didn't have cancer at all he was not going to let it get him down. To me, this was bravery at its finest.
Everyone's life is a unique experience. We all come into this world in different situations and we all leave in different situations. We care for others, others care for us, we endure suffering, fight diseases, and we don't do it alone.

My grandmother has a family that visits her more often than me. They are one reason why I do not visit as often, but my lack of visits is also due to my weakness against the forces of sadness, suffering, and tears. I have that comfort zone of, "someone is there." I know that if no one were there then I would conjure up the courage to visit Grandma more often.

Maybe I'm making excuses for the lack of my bravery. As I always tell my son, "There are no excuses in life." I also tell him that we make excuses based on our weaknesses. On that note, to all of you who endure the pain and suffering of loved ones... you are my heroes. I can only dream of being as strong as you are.
This article was written in inspiration from my acquaintance who I mentioned earlier. Reading her updates inspires me to be braver and to comfort those who are suffering-especially loved ones. I am not sure how far I will go, but I will be sure to live with my choices.
~John Debar~


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