"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke (©julenisse/Fotolia)

Monday, February 20, 2017

A Mother's Lessons Lead to Her Final Gift

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Photo Credit: Ondřej Šálek Flickr via Compfight cc

“I want to die.”  

It was hard to hear when my mother first said the words to me over the phone, but I understood why she felt that way. Besides robbing her of memory, that thief dementia had stolen my mom’s independence, dignity and ability to have an adult conversation. She repeated herself incessantly and often had trouble spitting out a coherent thought.

“Oh, never mind,” she’d say when she couldn’t get the words out. I could tell she was confused, frightened and depressed at the turn her life had taken. I tried to imagine what it would be like to wake up in assisted living every morning and not remember where I was or why I was there. The thought terrified me.

“I just want it to be over,” she said, in a rare moment of clarity. 

She hadn’t been so definite about anything in five years or more. At first I didn’t know what to say, but a month later, when my mom repeated her desire to die, I’d had time to think about my response.

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