I was at a meeting for Alzheimer’s caregivers when Dale called. There was fear in his halting voice: “Where…are…you?”
It was a first.
It was also a last. I could no longer leave him alone.
Now I am alone, and Dale’s words are mine: Where are you?
Weren’t you just here? Wasn’t I just preparing your lunch…singing and laughing with you…helping you get ready for bed? Where are you?
Although the words come directly from my grieving heart, they also seem crazy. I was with Dale when he died. I composed his memorial service. I helped bury his ashes.
And yet, the feeling that he should still be here can be strong. It’s easy to “hear” his resonant voice, to “see” him sitting next to me, or to just assume he’s resting in another room. All of our years…working, living, loving together…wove countless threads of a shared life throughout my being. The tapestry of “us” is part of who I am.
As we lived with Alzheimer’s, a tighter weave was created. In the last months of Dale’s life, nearly every breath I took was focused on his care, such that soon afterward I asked: How is it that I am still breathing and you are not? It made no sense to my shocked being.
Sometimes it still makes no sense. There is discomfort, awkwardness, and even resistance as I live into a life without his physical presence. And yet, with each step, I gain strength. These new experiences help me heal.
As I make my way through the grieving process, I realize more and more the answer to my question: Dale IS here…in my memories of special times together…in my sense of awe when I see the clear blue sky and my heart leaps, just as his did…even in my voice when I repeat one of his sayings and follow it with laughter.
The threads woven through my being remain. Our love endures. May I honor and celebrate it as I move forward…weaving new patterns into my life that incorporate the beauty of all that we shared.
Reblogged this on Shifting Margins and commented:
This is one of the most beautiful and meaningful expressions of the grieving process that I have read. It poignantly describes my own journey as I seek to weave the love Linda and I shared for sixty years into the fabric of a future without her presence. Norma Sessions has a special gift for using images to capture the deepest and most profound insights and experiences.
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Thank you for your kind words and for sharing.
Your words resonate so deeply with me. While losing my best friend is not losing a husband, I find that so much was shared between us in our 40 years friendship that I often feel huge holes in the pattern of my life now. I think the most difficult thing is losing the person who knew me best, the one I had no secrets from because I could say anything to her without judgement or explanation. I honestly did not expect it to be this tough! Thank you for continuing to share your journey. It is so helpful!
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Thank you for reading and sharing, Beth. Yes: huge holes. It does hurt so much. Bless you as you grieve.🙏❤️
Thank you, dear Norma. So beautifully have you expressed your feelings about your loss and coping that I am writing with tears dripping off my cheeks. I know from what other widows and widowers have taught me that the grief will never go away and nothing will be the same, but they assure that there is light ahead. Perhaps it is that I am grieving myself over so much that has happened in the past 2 years and the state in which the nation and human race seem to be, but I guess I need to cry too.
In case it is of help to anyone reading this, I want to share something that was written mostly by Norma, before any inkling that Dale might develop Alzheimer’s. It’s a link to a booklet for family caregivers. Feel free to make a copy: https://www.screspitecoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/What-you-need-to-know-about-me-Notebook_2022.pdf
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Thank you, Susan, for your kind words and for sharing the link of the booklet we wrote together!
Norma. These beautiful words resonate with me as I continue to miss my Dear Sister, Nancy Anne, who wrote a lovely good-bye letter to me in the final months of her life. We had a special sibling connection that was unique. She was, and continues to be, an important part of my life. Thank you for your expressing such sentiments. Absolutely stunning.
Thank you so much, Norman. Peace be with you as you continue to miss your dear sister.
Norma. These beautiful words resonate with me as I contnue to miss my Dear Sister, Nancy Anne. We had a special sibling connection that was unique. Thank you for your sentiments. Absolutely stunning!