Whenever I hear of a “newby” in this disease, I grieve for them. I received a call last night from, yet another person, who’s been smacked down with this disease. It wouldn’t necessarily have grieved me so much in the past because I had no idea of the impact. Now, I do. I’ve decided, along with a fellow painter friend of mine, that I’d rather faceplant into my paint pallet “when the time comes”, rather than die of this disease. Since this has been such a long road for Jerry and I, and the decline has been so gradual, we’ve become accustomed to the lifestyle. But, whenever, I hear of a “newby” it causes me to reflect back through the beginning years. Such emotional devastation. Such “birthpains”. There are many “first” with this disease. The first time you hear the diagnosis. The first time you get your “house in order”; the wills, the funeral plans, the power of attorney. The first time you tell your children. The first time you see him cry. The first reduced paycheck. The first time you retire all your debt and sell your home. The first frantic search for a cure. The first time he’s told he can’t drive. The first time you sell his car. The first time you explain to people. The first time your friends move on without you. The first time you order for him. The first time you see him eat with a knife instead of a fork or watch him eat butter with a spoon. The first time you cut his meat for him. The first visit to an adult day care. The first clinical trial. The first time you throw care to the wind and travel without reservation. The first time you lose him in a crowd. The first time you shave him. The first time you get a “sitter”. The first time you tuck him in for a nap. The first time you wipe his nose. The first time you REintroduce him to his grandchildren. The first time you go visit possible nursing homes. The first time you go to a party without him. .
First, there were the years of grief. Then there were the years of my being invincible. Then there were the years of submission. Now the years are of acceptance.
Along with acceptance comes peace, a sigh of relief, and even humor.
Not all firsts are so gut wrenching. There’s the first time of total dependence on God and realizing it is out of your control. There’s seeing the goodness and compassion of others; the restoration of faith in mankind. The first new friends and the blooming of where you are planted. The first notice of God’s provision that came out of nowhere. The realization that you’ve made it this far. ..that you didn’t crumble...that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. The first glimpse of brightness in the midst of such sadness. The sun breaking through the darkness. The new person you’ve become. Yes, there are many, many firsts. They ones that keep us thinking positive and moving forward.