Melancholy is beyond sad: as a noun or an adjective, it’s a word for the gloomiest of spirits.
And that was our day yesterday. It did not help that it was raining all day long. But depression in Alzheimer’s is a real thing. We, as caregivers, need to stay on top of it. Being faced with an incurable disease is so difficult. And in moments of lucidity, it becomes so apparent and there is a tendency to despair. And in those lucid moments, an Alzheimer’s patient can overly focus on their losses. Yesterday was a day when my mom could not stop thinking about my stepdad, and she said, “Some days the loss of Frank is overwhelming. And today is that day.” And so, we looked at photo albums and we spoke of old times and how much joy he brought to our family, and to my mom.
I changed out photos in frames so she could look at the photos of her and Frank. She opted to remove a photo of her mother, sitting on a porch at her grandmother’s house, taken in the late 1890s, for this photo of her and Frank. One of her comments struck me, “I have little to no memory of this photo of my mother as a little girl, but I love looking at photos of Frank.” And so we changed things up. She doesn’t want to see photos of other family members too much. She just wants to relive those moments with him. And I wept a little, for so many reasons.
My mom was married to my dad for 27 years. But now that it is 35+ years after their divorce, I could not imagine them married. My mom bloomed when she met Frank. She fell in love – deeply in love. And he transformed her. She smiled more often, she was kinder, and she let down some walls she had erected around her heart. She became her best self. And I could never thank him enough for loving her like that. It changed our entire family.
I wept because I got to see a deep love that transcends time and place. Frank died over four years ago. But his love is still with my mom. She has told me she is looking forward to resting, eternally, by his side. How can you not admire a love like that? I wept because that love transcends pretty much all the other loves in her life. Even me. But that has its place. I cried because my mom loved someone more than me, her daughter. I felt sorry for myself. But then I sort of rallied myself, because I love my husband like that. Without him, my life is pretty meaningless. I have sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. But my love for my husband is what brought all that to me, and it transcends even motherhood. Without my husband, I would not have a family; I would not be family. And so I get it. I do. And I think I was jealous of that love and all the memories I was not a part of, for her. I have been with my husband as long (now longer) than my mom was with Frank, as we met our spouses within a month of each other. Pretty cool. And then I thought of this:
“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me; and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Mark 8:34-38