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And this little light of mine,
a gift you passed on to me, I’m gonna let it shine to guide you safely on your way
From time to time, people will ask me if I’m afraid that what happened to my mother will happen to me, and whether or not I’d want to be tested to see if I’m a carrier for the marker that seems to detect Alzheimer’s.
In the nearly 15 years since her diagnoses, I’ve never thought about the disease in the context of what it will mean for my own fate, beyond the idea that I will have to live and grow through life motherless, at least without a mother who can actively participate in my living and growing. The idea of getting sick from this same disease has not been a concern, or much of a thought. Instead, it’s made me focus so much more on the living part of the life I have, of making sure every step forward is with intention and passion, love and hope.
It’s not always easy. The past few days have especially been difficult, as I’ve found myself feeling the absence of my mother’s presence so intensely, for reasons totally beyond my understanding. It really is astonishing sometimes, how suddenly out of what seems like nowhere I am completely taken over by the overwhelming feeling of pain and loss and missing that I thought subsided a long time ago.
I don’t know if it’s because time or just the evolution of self, but the one upside is generally, after the unexpected sob session/heart-aching pain, I’m left feeling such immense love and gratitude. To know love in that capacity, to understand exactly what it means to love unconditionally and be loved unconditionally, to know that no matter how life erodes us, or separates us, that such love still exists, purely, fiercely, and tangible as ever, is such a beautiful, breath-taking thing.
I will never get over what happened to my mother. I will never understand why I had to lose her in this way. But I will not take for granted the lessons it’s taught me about the power of that kind of love, and the importance of sharing it on to others in whatever capacity possible, in whatever time I might have to do so.
So no, I’m not worried about the years I have left, or whether or not Alzheimer’s will “get” me–the truth is, it already has. Instead, I focus on nurturing the love I’ve been lucky to receive in this lifetime, and to find ways to cultivate it and share it with others. Because isn’t that what this life is about, anyway, Alzheimer’s diagnosis or not?