Monday, December 19, 2011

The Last Time

This morning I was thinking about two different friends of mine, both facing losing their moms to cancer.  At least they get this holiday season with their moms, and they know it's the last one, is the direction my thoughts went, and I started composing some sort of holiday blog post in the back of my mind.
And when I got home from driving and musing, and logged onto Facebook, I saw to my dismay that one friend's mom had succumbed to her cancer only 2 weeks after her diagnosis.  Last year was their last holiday together and they didn't know it.  Her mom was healthy and fine in mid-November (or thought she was).
You don't know when it will be the last time.  The last time you see someone, talk to them, celebrate a holiday, hoist a pint, laugh or cry or cringe at a movie together.  It is worse when a healthy person gets taken in an accident of course, as there is no warning, but as my friend just found out to her sorrow, a mom can be fine on Thanksgiving and dead of cancer by Christmas.
When my dad got diagnosed, the doctors estimated, based on his age and how far his Alzheimer's had progressed, that he would live approximately 11 years.  How GOOD those years might have been, they didn't say.  Just that he should have made it to about 75 years old.  So at that last Christmas, the one we didn't know was the last, in 2006, we thought we had 8 or 9 more years, when in truth it was less than a year.  
Ironically, every year my mom thinks it's her mother's last Christmas (she's 93 now) and every year Grandma keeps going like the Energizer bunny.  We're almost numb to thinking about her not being here anymore, to the point that when it does happen, we're going to be in total shock.
I guess we all know somewhere deep inside that anyone and anything can be taken from us without warning. And maybe we should live like that, never going away mad or holding a grudge.  Always kissing our loved ones goodbye and telling them they are loved.  But we don't.  We get angry.  We slam doors.  We leave without saying goodbye.  Everyone would like to think they are immortal and so are all their loved ones.
I believe that as long as someone remembers us, our memory is immortal, and our souls hang out in the Elsewhere Bar and do whatever needs to be done in the next life.  But Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia can steal away even that breath of life, taking those memories forever.
I can't offer a solution.  I'm not a god or a doctor, just a person who has lost so much, who grieves to see her friends in similar sorrow.  
Love who you have while you have them, and remember them fondly every day after that.


Sheri said...

Thanks for the reminder. We all need it once in a while.
From Sheri
"Living with Bob and "Al"

Susan Higgins said...

Beautiful post. Love is life.

Maddy said...

You're so right.

Dreaming said...

You certainly have a way of putting this into perspective. We should all live each day as if it was our last... we should consider how we treat others and not have regrets we don't see them again. Life, well, death is a hard reality check!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, thank you. It's a nice reminder that every minute is precious. I was lucky enough to read a pre-pub copy of a new and exceptionally moving memoir with a similar idea as its backbone. I think it comes out this month, if you're looking for more books to review. "The Living End: A Memoir of Forgetting & Forgiving.", allowed me to see the firsthand, emotional journey of a caretaker, grandson and "adoring fan" of a grandmother with Alzheimer's. And of, more than anything, the true miracle of love.