I've been thinking a lot in the past two months about a conversation my sister and I had before Christmas. After meeting with her counselor, she had called to ask me a question. She wondered if I thought it would still be really hard when our Mom goes to Heaven because we have already spent so much time mourning our gradual loss of her to Alzheimer's.
Maybe you are reading this thinking, "Wow, that's what they think about?" And, to be honest, it is. That way of thinking, right or wrong, is a lot of how I have grieved. That day, though, my sister shared with me something from her counseling session and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. After asking her counselor the same question, he offered a very interesting analogy. Imagine that you are going sky diving. To prepare, your instructor gives you a manual to read. After you read the manual, you get suited with gear and are taken up in a plane. Without anymore instruction or guidance, your instructor pushes you out. Now, no matter how much you studied that manual, there was no way for it to have prepared you for what you felt when you fell from the plane. Reading a manual about sky diving and actually sky diving are two totally different things.
The same is true of mourning the loss of someone before they are physically gone. While I have mourned the loss of the mom I once knew, I can still hug, kiss, and snuggle up to her. I can touch her hair and face, and hold her hands. I can sit and watch her make a familiar facial expression. I can still hear her sneeze the same way she always has - always so loud that when we were kids it would embarrass us when we were in public. And, I can still see her smile. Because so much of my mom is gone I can hope that it will be easier. The truth is that it probably won't be easier. New emotions and a different kind of grief will one day come.
The next three pictures are from this past Thursday night. It was my first night in Little Rock, and Dad and I went to see Mom. While she was eating her ice cream he asked her if she remembered their Gingie Bain (that's what they called me when I was little) standing on the table out on the back deck eating a popcicle and making funny faces. She remembered and smiled so big!