Love Out Loud (This is Alzheimer's # 4)
March 27, 2013
This is Alzheimer’s . . . Each night mom and I have a routine. When it is time for bed after all the routines of getting ready for bed (which take a while) are done, I have mom climb into to bed. I pull her covers up and tuck her in. I always say the same thing to her each night, “Good night. Stay in bed until the sun comes up and get a good nights sleep. I will turn the music on. I love you! Good night mom. Love you.” Every night it is the same words. Sometimes in a different order slightly, but the same thing essentially. The one thing that never changes is that I ALWAYS end with “love you”. There was a time maybe about two years ago when mom would on better nights respond with a simple “good night” and some nights she would say “love you”. Now, for so long there has been no response. Just silence and her stark blue eyes looking up and me. I long to hear her say “I love you too”. Which I find so ironic . . . One of those full circle moments that you wonder about in life. You see, when I was a little girl I remember I always waited anxiously for my mom to come in and tuck me in at night. I would yell from my bed, “Mommy, come in!!!” She would come in and tuck me in and kiss me on the forehead. I am sure she said I love you, but the funny thing is I don’t remember that. As I grew this faded especially after my parents divorced. I harbored much anger, bitterness, and misunderstanding in my heart towards my mom after that (age 10+). I lived with her and I am sure she still tucked me in at night after we moved away from my dad and Tonopah, but I don’t have any fond memories of this routine as I grew older. What I do remember is wanting so desperately to tell my mom that I loved her, but I was so afraid. I was afraid of what she might say or how she would respond. I remember being a teenager and laying in my bed at night trying to figure out how to say those three little words. This really sounds strange but it tormented me throughout my high school years. Really deep down inside I was very angry at my mom and didn’t understand why my parents had divorced. I had so many unanswered questions that I felt never were and my never be answered. I would say “I love you mom” in writing all the time. The actual words though got all choked up inside and I couldn’t speak them. The few times I remember actually getting these words out as a teenager I distinctly remember my mom responding, “me too.” This, for one reason or another, crushed me. I just simply wanted to hear, “I love you too” back. I remember feeling my fears of rejection being validated. When I was 18 I had a very hard conversation with my mom that to this day I am so thankful I did. It was really a turning point for me and mom, I think. We were sitting in our living room in Reno and I told mom I had something to tell her. Something that had been bothering me for ten years and that I needed to get it off my chest. I then looked my mom right in the eyes and I said, “I have hated you for 10 years, mom, and I am tired. I am tired of hating you. I don’t want to hate you. I want to love you, but I lay in bed at night, every night, just wondering why you and dad got divorced?” My mom and I talked about it all that day. I had my answers . . . And finally I could begin to love my mom the way I should. After that day I told myself I would tell my mom I loved her as often as I felt brave enough to do so. It was still so hard to get those words to come out of my mouth. NOT because I hated her. Because I was so afraid of being rejected. I didn’t ever really hate her. I didn’t like some of the choices she made that affected my life, but I was just confused and crushed. After our conversation I stared to slowly heal completely. It was hard for me to say I love you because she usually just said, “Me too” and that to me was rejection. However, I was determined to just keep saying it. I was brave more and more often. I started telling her more and more. Each time she would respond, “Me too.” Until, finally one day she said, “I love you too.” I don’t know when that day was, but I remember that it happened and I remember how it felt. Then as the years went by it just became easier and easier to tell my mom I loved her. And every time she would respond more and more with an, “I love you too!” Then it got to the point where all the fear was gone and I no longer felt rejection. I actually forgot about this being an issue in my life until the other night when I was doing my nightly routine with mom and as I turned out her light I said, “Sleep well mom, I love you.” Then I paused for a moment in the darkness and felt the heaviness of the silence. I broke it with one more, “Love you mom.” Then waited a few more seconds with a shred of hope for even an attempt of any words. Nothing though, so I turned out the light and closed her door quietly and that is when I remembered how hard it use to be for me to say I love you. Then my whole childhood flashed before me and I wondered why was it so hard then and so easy now? I tell my mom numerous times everyday now that I love her with no response. Then it dawned on me the difference is that as a child I feared rejection and I felt like I had a hundred years and now I have nothing to fear but the ticking of time and there is no rejection, but inability. I know she loves me. Oh, but how I long to hear her voice say those words, just like when I was a child. Tell everyone you love that you love them LOUD and PROUD and OFTEN and when they tell you respond! You never know when your last “I love you” may come. Remember just as Jesus taught . . . We are nothing and can do nothing without love. THIS IS ALZHEIMER’S . . . .