When our mom started acting “odd”, we had no idea what was going on. There were so many layers to her behavior, so many peculiar instances and things she would say, we didn’t know what to make of any of it. There are so many things that happened, I would need a few days and bottles of wine to get you caught up to how we got to where we are now. Which, considering all things, is a much better place than where we were, say, a year ago.
I remember at times I was so frustrated, annoyed, even angry with my mom. It’s important to know that this terrible disease was the furthest thought from my brain. Not in a million years did I think it was dementia when she first started showing signs – over time, yes, but not at first. I just thought maybe she wasn’t really interested in me or my life anymore, I was beginning to take it really personally. A part of me felt abandoned on top of feeling confused and extraordinarily anxious. I can recall a moment with her, I became so upset, I said something along the lines of would she even care if something terrible happened to me. I could see her reaching for emotion and trying so hard, but she couldn’t quite express her thoughts or emotions and yet, we still didn’t know. The only thing she was able to get out was, “I do love you Lauren”. The guilt I had after that day once we finally found out what her diagnosis was (Frontal Temporal Dementia, FTD for short)…I mean, it’s a memory and moment I need to let go of. It needs to go. With this disease, that is exactly what happens, you lose interest in the very things that were once your entire life, you lose interest in EVERYTHING. Believe me, nothing is spared here, nothing. Honestly, I was hoping she was popping pills or something, because that I knew was at least fixable in some way. Now, fast forward through all of the doctor appointments, all of the insanely difficult and heart breaking decisions we had to make, all of the transitions and I, without maybe even realizing it, began to understand the severity and the depth of this disease and my new mom. I mean, of course, she is always my mom, but she’s different now. The woman who raised me, who sat on our front porch with me when I got back from my first trip to Italy and wanted to hear every detail or who would take me shopping for the most beautiful dresses, shoes and accessories to wear to weddings with Anthony because she was secretly trying to marry me off. Seriously, lol. And she would always say to me, “he’s going to marry you one day”…and she was right, he did. It’s those memories and some of the things she said that will stick with me forever. Oh and her laugh…she has a good laugh, we just don’t hear it too often anymore. You better believe if I have to moon her or flash her my boobies to get even an ounce of that amazingly, contagious laugh out of her, I’ll do it. It works like a charm.
And now we are here and the roles have completely changed. In a really weird, but natural way of life manner, she is kind of more like my small child now than my mom and I know over time, she will be more like my baby, but for right now, I am trying to enjoy my new mom and stay in the present moment. I’m trying to be grateful for the woman she is now and the lessons she is teaching me. This entire experience has shifted me and not entirely in a bad way. The love I have for her now is certainly different than the love I exhibited when she wasn’t sick. It’s a more nurturing love, a more compassionate love. It’s a hard to explain kind of love, but I feel that it is different, yet beautifully the same in a way. I have no choice but to accept our new roles and relationship with one another, so I choose to try to enjoy it. It’s that or dive deep into a depression and that certainly wouldn’t be fair to either of us. Because if I don’t take care of me, how am I suppose to take care of my mama? Obviously I would do anything in the world for her to not be sick, but there is nothing that I can do, except be okay with her transitions, her journey and to do anything and everything she needs me to do. The patience she has taught me to have and the extra amount of love she has allowed me to give, is something that I really didn’t know I had. She has no idea the amount of invaluable lessons and gifts she has given me during this time and I am extraordinarily grateful to her. I have said a lot of “me” and “I”, but it goes without saying that our family would have never gotten to where we are without the support and love we bring to any and every situation we are faced with.
Although I feel like I did lose my mom, I also know she is still present, just in a different way. Just as I did before she was sick, I will embrace who she is now, the woman and mother she is to me at this moment in my life and I will focus on the now, because this is her journey and I’m going to walk with her while she goes on it. Regardless of the stage she is in her life, she will always be this insanely beautiful woman, inside and out.
Click hear to read more about Lauren’s journey with her mama.
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