This has been a tough week for my family. I haven’t posted at all this week because I had to fly to Boston for my grandmother’s funeral. My Nana has had Alzheimer’s for years now but only recently stopped eating, talking, and walking, which was a rapid and unforeseen decline. When she started losing her most important memories, it happened so gradually that I almost didn’t notice until one day a couple years ago when I went to see her; she was cordial and friendly but clearly didn’t know who I was. In that moment, I knew that the Nana that I grew up with was gone. But I didn’t feel sad. Despite the Alzheimer’s and not knowing who any of us were anymore, she was spunky and funny; she loved to dance and listen to music and she loved little kids. When it became clear to my parents that she wasn’t safe in her own home anymore, she moved into a memory unit in an assisted living facility. It was difficult for her at first but I believe that she truly loved it there and felt safe.
We all dealt with my Nana’s memory loss in our own ways, some taking it harder than others. It was especially hard for my father who wrote in his eulogy for her, that the people who worked in her home taught him that “she didn’t have to know me, I just needed to know her.” For him, that was the most important lesson. Losing a parent or grandparent who has Alzheimer’s isn’t any easier than losing someone who knows you. And in some ways, you have already mourned the person that you once knew. But they were right. She was still there, she still loved, maybe not directly but in her own way.
It was sad to say goodbye, but overall I’m glad that she isn’t suffering anymore. And the picture that I hold on to is that she is where she is supposed to be; that she is with my Grandpa and she knows who she is and she knows us. And that she’s happy.
On a different but also somber note, this week has been difficult for other reasons as well. I don’t think it will be a shock to most people who know me that I am a bleeding heart liberal through and through. The amount of anxiety that I feel about the incoming president and his cabinet is more than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m doing my best to channel it into action but it’s harder than I could imagine.
I remember being 19 years old, voting for the first time. And that first time happened to be for the first black president. It was a wonderful and celebratory day. I felt the same amount of excitement voting for Hillary this past year but knew also that the alternative would be so much worse than John McCain or Mitt Romney. (I miss the days when I was worried about either of them being president.)
I am going to miss Barack Obama and his family so much. He is such a loving, kind, compassionate human being on top of being one of the best presidents this country has and will ever see. He led this country with such grace considering the amount of backlash he received for 8 straight years. He has always fought for what he believes in and I know that we will need his leadership and strength in the coming years. I hope he knows how much people are going to be looking up to him. I know that I will be. I’m sending out as many positive vibes as I can muster into the universe right now and hoping and praying for the strength to fight for MY rights and for others who are not as fortunate and privileged as I am.
These next four years are going to be challenging, that much I know. But today, I just want to thank President Obama. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“Yes we did. Yes we can.”