My dad had an appointment with a funeral home director a couple of weeks ago. I remember him mentioning something to me, but I didn’t know he had made an appointment or when it was. At the time, I didn’t even think to tell him to wait for me to come home so I could go with him.
I didn’t find out about the appointment until afterward and it absolutely broke my heart that he had to do that alone. It really upset me that I couldn’t be there for him. He may have preferred to go by himself, but still, I felt like I should’ve been there for him.
While I was home visiting this week, my dad had some paperwork from the funeral home he wanted me to look over. Although we had already spoken about it on the phone, he wanted me to look through everything myself. He left the packet of information on the table and asked me to look at it when I had a chance.
I put it off, not wanting to take time away from my mom to read brochures, but I knew I owed it to my dad to look at it at some point.
On my last day at home, my mom’s aide was making her something to eat, so I made myself a sandwich and grabbed the packet my dad had left for me. I took everything to the kitchen table and sat down.
Do you know how it feels to look through a catalog of caskets and urns while your loved one is eating lunch in the other room?
It feels like a betrayal.
It feels like I have given up on her, like I’ve finally admitted to myself that there’s nothing more I can do.
It feels like I’m going behind her back to plan her death, her funeral, meanwhile she has no idea what’s going on.
It feels like a lie.
It feels like I’m lying to her every time I tell her she’s ok, she’s safe, and nothing is going to happen to her.
It feels like I’m keeping this huge secret from her, something that everyone else knows about, but she doesn’t have a clue.
There were several times this week when my mom said something about death, dying, a funeral, or a body. One time, she actually said, “He’s just going to throw my body in the water.”
Does she know something?
Or is this just her usual chatter about things that don’t make sense or have any bearing in real life?
It’s hard to say, but it breaks my heart nonetheless.
That’s the thing about this Alzheimer’s journey. You try and try to make the right decisions, to do the right things, the hard things, but you always wonder if you’re failing your loved one in some way. You always wonder if you’re letting them down. You always wonder if they know something they can’t tell you.
It hurts. You’re heavy and broken and tired in a way that no one understands and yet, you keep going.
You do the hard things and make the tough decisions because you know you’re all they’ve got. Your love carries you through and pushes you forward when you feel like giving up.
Your love allows you to sit at the kitchen table, picking out caskets and urns and funeral arrangements, while your loved one is eating lunch in the next room.
It’s so hard.
But, it’s love.
You do it all out of love.