Thursday, May 27, 2010

Letting Go

I just returned yesterday from helping care for my mother. Her memory is failing. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. As we sat in the neurologist's office I realized I am losing my mother. She was asked, "what is today?" ... she looked at me, as she always does ... "sorry, Ma, I can't help you with this test." By the time she answers the first few questions she has the wrong day, can't say what the date is, thinks we are in California (we were in Florida), thinks it's 1980. She still reads well though and can spell the word "World" backwards without a problem. When asked to write a sentence ... "what sentence should I write?" The doctor: "any sentence." She writes "I am sorry I am losing my memory." She smiles as she hands me the paper. Outside in the waiting area she shares stories with me about my Papa who died in 1968 when I was 4. I have always felt like I lost my mother the first time after my father died. Now I'm losing her again, but on a different level. She shares with me "Your Papa asked me to promise that I would never marry again and that I would take care of his 3 kids. All he could think about were his kids. He didn't want to die. He didn't want to leave us. I was so angry with him, with God, for taking him away." She goes on, "I kept my promise. But now I am alone ... where are we? I've never been here before. Are we in America? I want to go back to Manila ...", and slips off into conversations that take a million turns -- some make sense, some don't. I am learning to simply join her on her ride and the journey of her hijacked mind.

At times she's a harsh woman throwing out insults and filled with paranoia. At other times, she's loving, kind and giving. At times, it's like she's a little girl -- lost, confused, scared. When I am with her she's mostly calm. When I leave and I talk to her on the phone there is desperation ... words coming out of her mouth at first pierced my heart.  Behind the screen of desperation is complete and utter fear. I am learning the importance of really tuning in to my own feelings, my own limitations, and of letting go ...

This has been a hard road ... I am grateful for the support of so many. I am grateful for my brother's family in Florida who cared for my mom for over a month. She is now in St. Louis (where she once lived for over 25 years) with her long-time friends who love her. My hope is that as she is surrounded by all of her friends and the positive memories she had that it will spark loving, calm and peaceful thoughts for her. I return next Tuesday to St. Louis. I am fortunate my work takes me to St. Louis and while I am there I will also work to find her a safe place to live ... my vacation days have been consumed with traveling to see my mom, phone calls and a heaviness in my heart where I continue to work to let go ...

I took these photos in Marco Island last winter ... a gorgeous sunset ... I have to remind myself to trust. Just as I know that when the sun sets and disappears over the horizon, that the sun will rise again.

I found this poem on the internet .... I continue to pray for patience, and for the wisdom to listen deeply for the spirit of truth and love that is present in each and every one of us ..


To let go doesn't mean to stop caring;
It means I can't do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off....
It's the realization that I can't control another.....

To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try and change or blame another,
I can only change myself.

To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.

To let go is not to be protective,
It is to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes and cherish the moment.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to fear less and love more.

1 comment:

  1. I accidentally deleted the comment of Nicole Covey [sorry Nicole ... fat fingers on my mobile device]. Thanks so much for your beautiful comment. Fortunately a copy went to my email account so i'm able to cut and paste your comment below:

    Oh, Marilou--such heartbreaking news. I know this can't be easy for you. I know how difficult it can be to watch a loved one struggle with something you can't fix for them--when that's all you want to do is just fix it. I'm very happy to hear that your mom has friends who love her and will help her with this new challenge. This is going to be a challenge for YOU as well. I'm pretty sure that life presents us with difficult challenges to help us understand the depths of our patience, love, intelligence, ingenuity, and compassion. We will never know our limits unless we are pushed to them, and we will never learn more about ourselves until we accept challenges willingly and learn from our decisions. The only bad choices we make are those we learn nothing from.

    This new path you are on will be full of joy, pain, and choices that must be made. But isn't that the same as any path we take? I know you will make the best decisions that you can with your mom's best interests at heart. Enjoy whatever little moments that you can--those are the stuff memories are made of <3

    This poem brought a tear to my eye as I am trying to deal with the issues of one of my own family members. Sometimes we DO have to just let go and understand that life will continue, and we must simply make the best of it. Change in others starts with change in ourselves. Adaptation is the key to the human condition. When we cease being adaptable is when issues arise. Life is not scripted--so we must be always willing to improvise where needed.