By Lauren Dykovitz
This post is part of HealthyWomen’s Real Women, Real Stories series.
They say to write what you know.
I know the pain of losing a parent to Alzheimer’s. I know the pain of grieving the loss of someone you love before they even die. I know the pain of losing more and more of your mom every day.
I know the pain of trying to learn and grow while she is disappearing right before your eyes. I know the pain of trying to build your life while hers is becoming completely undone. I know the pain of trying to prepare yourself for a life without her even though you’ve already been living without her for a long time.
And one day, I’ll know the pain of actually, physically losing your mom and somehow finding the strength to live the rest of your life without her.
These are the things I know and so, these are the things I write. But lately, I’ve been looking for something more. What else do I know? What else can I write about?
Mostly because a little voice in the back of my head keeps telling me that I can’t write about Alzheimer’s forever. One day my mom will be gone and there may be no words left to write. And so I need to set myself up for a life without her—a life after Alzheimer’s. I know that I need to find something else to write about if I want to keep writing long after this journey has ended.
They say to write what you know.
Well, what else do I know? Other than the pain and the grief and the fear of losing my mom to Alzheimer’s.
And then, it dawned on me. I know love.
I know the love of caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s. I know the love of showing up day in and day out even though it hurts to see your loved one this way. I know the love of feeding and dressing your mom, singing and reading to her, and making her feel safe and loved.
I know the love of doing anything and everything possible just to give your mom a few moments of joy in her day.
I know the love of hearing your mom say your name or call you her daughter when you haven’t heard her say it in so long. And I know the love of being so damn thankful for things that most people take for granted because I also know how it feels to lose those things.
I know the pain of losing your mom to Alzheimer’s. But I also know the love—the love and bond between a mother and daughter. It’s a love so deep in your heart and soul, and even in your bones. It’s a bond that nothing, not even Alzheimer’s, can break.
In searching for something more, I’ve realized that I already have it. My story is about so much more than just Alzheimer’s. My story is about life, love, loss, and everything in between.
My story is never-ending.
My story is worth writing.
My story needs to be told.
They say to write what you know, so that’s exactly what I’ll do.
A version of this post originally appeared on Lauren’s’ Blog, Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s. It has been reprinted with permission.
Lauren Dykovitz is a blogger and author. She lives in Florida with her husband and two black labs. Her mom, Jerie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at age 62. Lauren was only 25 years old at the time. Jerie is still living with advanced Alzheimer’s.
Lauren writes about her experience on her blog, Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s. She has also been a contributing writer for several other blogs and websites. Lauren self-published her first book, Learning to Weather the Storm: A Story of Life, Love, and Alzheimer’s. She is also a member of AlzAuthors, a group of authors who have written books about Alzheimer’s and dementia.