Woa. Almost a month to the day since I last posted. I have been thinking about this idea for a while so I will give it a try.
When I think about Gregory and my 41 years together, I end up thinking mostly of the last 12 after the diagnosis of Dementia, most likely Alzheimer's Disease. I wonder why is it difficult to pull up memories of our earlier and middle times together? I can do so if I work at it but for some reason revisiting the Alzheimer's times, the good and the difficult, come more easily.
Right after Gregory died and I was in the throws of catastrophic grieving, my God-son Isaac had a wise insight: "The intensity of the 12 years with Alzheimer's trumps (as in the card game) the 41 years of longevity of your relationship." While the balance has changed and I am more able to recall the 29+ years before the diagnosis, I still wonder why the early memories are more difficult to pull.
An explanation I came up with is that during our early and middle years, we just lived and loved with the good, the bad and the ugly that a growing relationship entails. There was no urgency in our day to day life: problems came and went, celebration arrived and left, milestones and millstones occured, the chapters in our life rolled one into the next; and we just lived our lives.
In my older years, I remember looking back at my younger years thinking that when I was in my 20's, 30's and 40's, I took life for granted assuming that I never would really die. Young adults do not think about those things, the future does not carry import, and if it does, they do not really comprehend that all life ends, sometimes before you expect it.
Life insurance is not a high priority because one cannot fathom one's death. As you age death takes a greater place on stage. Friends die unexpectedly and a parent or two die and you loose one or several pets ... but still, when it comes to the "self," your ego does not allow the reality of one's own death.
With the diagnosis of Dementia, most likely Alzheimer's, for Gregory (and me) I think we began to accept our mortality. We began to live more in the "here and now," live more "for today," be more "in the present." When one lives in this way, each experience, each event, each day becomes more important. Holidays are celebrated with more enthusiasm and more attention to detail if only who knows if we will have the holiday again next year?
So in working through all this, I wish (to no avail) that I had paid more attention to the pre-diagnosis days, that I had loved even more, that I had cared more intensely. What I do have left are the memories, which as I said are more difficult to pull up, but pull them up I can!
If I concentrate on working out the details of Gregory and my past time together, but at the same time not trying to live in the past or "beat myself up" with the failures of the past ... I can now assign more importance to them and remember them in "full color" with the beauty they carry.
Sometimes it is easier to leave the past in the past, but there is also merit in remembering. So what I find is that I must work at carrying a balance of joy with the sorrow. At times I allow the tears to flow and at other times I turn off the spiket. I re-live past times but also emphasize the present. And might I add that the future is another story that I will think about sometime in the future.
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