Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Friend in Need

Image found here. 

Last week, I got a call from a friend. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was feeling stressed.

"Girl. Are you doing anything today?"

Nope. Not a thing. What's up?

"I really need some time off, and I've arranged for someone to sit with Mom. Want to just run away with me for the day?"

My friend is the primary caregiver for her mother, who has Alzheimer's disease.

Sure! Absolutely. We'll have a girl's day out.

Within the hour, B. and I were heading out for the coast in my little car Goldie, Big Gulp-sized colas in hand.

B. needed time and a sympathetic ear. "Years ago, when I imagined my fifties, I thought that my hubby and I would finally have time to enjoy life. I thought with the kids all grown up that we would be free to travel and do all those things that we wanted to when we were younger and raising kids. But it sure didn't turn out that way."

She stopped to wipe away emotional tears. "I am serious when I say that I feel that taking care of Mom is the most important thing that I can do right now, and I will do this.  But it's so hard, and I didn't expect it to be this hard. This isn't the way I thought my life would be."

I blinked. This was sounding awfully familiar. Hadn't I been saying something similar for the past seven years? That having autoimmune disease is hard - and that I didn't envision my life being this way when I was younger?

I bit my tongue. It was so tempting to chime in with the I know exactly how you feel sentiment. But I didn't because in reality, I don't know exactly how B. feels. And I think that she is facing a much more difficult road than I in the next several years. Living with and watching someone you love fade away due to Alzheimer's disease has to be incredibly painful. It has been said that a day spent with someone suffering from Alzheimer's seems to last 36 hours, due to the minute to minute challenges and the frustrating awareness that the disease is incurable and relentlessly progressive. What a heavy burden for B. and her mother to bear.

I looked at B. in a new light. I had always envied her for her abundant energy and her good health, but I could see that a healthy body doesn't ensure a happily-ever-after scenario as we look to the last half of our lives.

We spent the day just driving around, stopping to eat lunch and dinner, talking and crying and laughing. B. was enjoying the knowledge that her cell phone was turned off and her mom was in good hands.

I dropped B. off at her home that night with the resolve to provide more days like this when possible for my friend, and with the realization that there are far worse ways in which life can be impacted other than autoimmune disease.

I need that reminder.

1 comment:

Denise @ Sunflowers, Chocolate and Little Boys said...

Im glad you were able to have such a special day with your friend. She needed that and I bet it refreshed her and helps her get through some tough days ahead.