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When Ann was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, I was, at first, in denial. How could this happen to her? How could this devastating disease find it’s way into such a brilliant mind, capable of so much throughout her remarkable career?
My denial led to a convoluted, tortuous path through the stages of grief which, in the case of Alzheimer’s, can be a long, sad journey. Anticipatory grief as to what lies ahead is, no doubt, the most troubling stop along the way. But, it is not really a stop. It is a series of detours that hinder progress toward acceptance and the eventual healing of the heart.
I’ll often fall into a state of despair, not unlike mourning. It is not the anguish one feels upon the sudden death of a loved one but a drawn-out process that develops a life of its own every time a new event or “milestone” forces its way into our lives.
Morphing into a dark presence that threatens to steal the joy we’ve always shared, I manage to break free and realize it is far too premature to mourn the loss of someone I still have and cherish beyond measure.
While I feel that small parts of my lovely wife have changed forever and she may not be the same girl I married 29 years ago due to her cognitive difficulties and limitations, I love her more now than I have at any point in our marriage.
Read more: Alzheimer’s: The Talk
The role of care partner is one of the noblest endeavors one can undertake and, as difficult as it can often be, I feel more needed and affirmed with every passing day. Her wonderful sweetness, infectious smile and positive outlook on our lives together, lighten my load considerably.
She’ll often thank me for everything I do but I’m the one who should be thankful for her. She has given so much to me throughout our marriage and, even now in her own way, she continues to give. She teaches and I am her student, eager to hone my skills in the best possible manner to care for her as we, together, walk down that “Purple Brick Road”.
As the disease changes her ever so subtly, I can equate the experience to a jeweler examining a diamond. Accustomed to viewing it only from the top, one might notice a few flaws. Small pieces of carbon dimming the reflection, and to some critical eyes, reducing its value. I realize that, while she cannot alter her position, I can change my perspective. By peering at this precious gem of a lady from a different angle, I discover a new treasure, never before seen.
Read more: Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Story
Suddenly, those tiny specks are lost in the sheer brilliance of a magnificent cut, polished by the Master Craftsman Himself, for me, our family and all those who love this magnificent, wonderful lady to enjoy.
Bruce Williams, 2015