June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month in the United States, and I’m grateful to my new friends at the worldwide Network for Grateful Living for helping shine the spotlight on Alzheimer’s!
After being introduced to their site, I was inspired to write a piece about Alzheimer’s and gratitude, two things we don’t necessarily see as going hand in hand. We know this disease brings with it pain and sorrow, shattered dreams, and disappointments over lost opportunities. We mourn uniquely beautiful lives cut short, and we struggle to say goodbye to what could (and should) have been. It’s a journey none of us would choose.
However, like anything in life, perspective matters. Some days, I could easily curl up in a blanket and sob for hours about how unfair it is that I began to lose pieces of my mom before I was out of my 30’s. Even as I write these words, I feel tears well up in my eyes.
Yet Alzheimer’s also made me a more compassionate person. It opened my eyes in many ways – to life’s most simple pleasures, to the fact that my story might actually help others, and to the idea that I had talents and abilities that had gone untapped and might be valued in venues I had never considered.
Living through the experience reminded me that my time on earth is limited and there’s no time like the present. It made me sweat the small stuff a bit less. It even made me realize I could leave behind a very comfortable 27-year career with a Fortune 100 company to work for a much smaller non-profit with a strong mission and values I believed in.
Of course, I would trade every last one of those things to have my mom back. Of course I would. But having her back in this life isn’t an option, so I the best way I can honor her is to go on and live the best life I can. The best way I can keep her spirit alive is to do what I now feel is my life’s work, which includes the recent launch of a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Marilyn’s Legacy: A World Without Alzheimer’s.
I wish I’d grasped the idea of Alzheimer’s and gratitude much earlier in our journey, but I guess that’s what growth is all about. Fortunately, with time, experience, plenty of soul searching – and an ocean of tears – it came while she was still alive. The piece I wrote for Gratefulness.org is all about what a blessing that was. I hope you’ll take few minutes to visit the site to read and share Alzheimer’s Taught Me to be Grateful.
Bookmark the site and check them out on Facebook as well. Be sure to read about Brother David and the fascinating life he led before co-founding the Network for Grateful Living. This has become one of my favorite places for daily inspiration!