I distinctly remember the cold February morning in 2014 when doctors finally diagnosed our mother. After months of countless doctor's visits, tests, and procedures, we finally had an answer: she had severe dementia. What I heard: She would not get better. I was crushed. In those countless days of doctor's visits, brain scans, and procedures, I'd been searching for an answer and a cure. I wanted a diagnosis and medicine that would make her better. I wanted my mommy back, and the diagnosis told me I wouldn't get her back, not as I had known her. It never occurred to me that, at 68, barely two years after retirement, she'd be diagnosed with a terminal illness. My biggest fear growing up was that my mother would get lung cancer. Dementia was the farthest thing from my mind. That night I crawled in my bed and cried for hours. To me, a significant chapter in my life was ending. I was engulfed with feelings of guilt and grief. I didn't tell her I loved her enough; I didn't appease her enough when she asked for more time, more hugs, more kisses. I felt like a major chapter of my life was ending. I would no longer have the mother-daughter moments to take for granted anymore.
I didn't understand six years ago because I would indeed have beautiful memories and moments with my mother. They were different, but love, even without words, is still there. I watched movies, read books and articles that prepared me for this new chapter. This was the beginning of my role as a caregiver, which changed and defined my purpose in life.
If you are going through this, my advice would be to cherish the new and different moments. The blessing is in having them.