Too often, I am afraid, we spend much of our time focusing on those afflicted with disease, without worrying so much about the impact on those around them.
My mom, a lovely lady in so many ways, was stoic. She was a hard worker, who invested little in outward emotion. She was focused on objectives- whatever it took to get things done.
I knew that she was having a rough time when my older brother, Todd, was acquiescing to cerebral AMN, though she did not much show it. After she passed, I came upon this letter that she wrote to Todd a few days after he succumbed.
Got to tell you, like mom, I do not show much emotion. This one made me cry.
It is my hope that reading this may help folks to better understand the extent of pain experienced by the loved ones of those with AMN, or any other serious illness. Have a read:
Grief takes many paths. For me, when waves of sorrow threaten to overtake me, I write. On March 24, just three days after Todd passed from this life, I wrote the following:
Dear first-born, you are no longer with me in body, but you will never be gone from my heart. As I watched you struggle the last few days of your life on earth, I saw you as the child I held close so long ago. I wanted to comfort you and make the hurt go away as I did when you were an infant. As you squeezed my hand on Friday, I believe you felt my love for you. I could not stay with you in your final moments because it hurt too much. I needed to leave Brad and Matt to comfort and care for you as you passed from this life.
In the few months that you lived at Wheaton Care Center you touched many lives. I spoke to Esmerelda, who told me you had discussed the possibility of marriage to her. She cared deeply for you, and took time away from her assigned duties to “prepare you with dignity,” as she explained her activities in washing and rearranging your body before it was removed from your bed. Other residents and staff members spoke fondly of you as they related stories of their interaction with you.
I was so very proud when I visited you and you introduced me as your best friend. I am highly honored to have been your best friend. As I fed you when you became unable to do so yourself, a certain closeness developed between us. Finally, I felt there was something I could do for you besides bringing you home-made cookies you enjoyed so much.
Although there were bumps in the road as you traveled through life, please know that my love for you has never wavered. You were smart, funny and delightful. If I could turn back the calendar and you could relive the years you had before the horrible illness robbed you of your life, I would sacrifice all. I can only take comfort in knowing that God has done what I am unable to do, and you are now in a better place.
The sun is shining and birds are singing. I will walk down to the lake, where I will see you in the beauty of nature, unfolding into new life after the long winter.
Rest in peace, precious child.