When my mom and dad died, I wrestled with how someone could be here today and gone tomorrow. Wondered where that energy went. Wonder where our time together went from my being a child, to a teenager, to a young adult, to a full grown adult (if one ever becomes full grown.)
I missed them. I grieved not only their death but what I considered the missed opportunities for parent/son relationships and how different it could have been if they were different, if I was different.
Acknowledged that I was grateful for many opportunities they did provide and for the love that existed. Acknowledged that they did the best job of parenting that they could and that I did the best job of "offspringing" that I could.
Now, with Gregory's passing, my perceptions of time have been shifting and the shift has caused me to do some deeper thinking.
Gregory and I lived, and we worked at living well for twelve years, with his diagnosis of Dementia/Alzheimer's. At times our life felt normal and at times we also felt like we were living on a roller coaster as his needs confounded, our interactions became surreal, his abilities failed and resurfaced only to finally fail again.
Now when I think about those twelve years, it feels like minutes. At the time it felt like forever, but now that the confusion, frustration, anger, sorrow, fear, etc no longer exists, it feels like moments.
Gregory spent the last 18 months of his life at the Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation on the Alzheimer's Special Care Unit. At the time it was a day in and day out activity. Grateful to Manny for providing not only care and safety for Gregory but also for the love, socialization, and life enrichment he provided on a day to day basis.
When Gregory's health needed extra attention or his medications needed rebalancing or when his difficult behaviors needed a look see; my life would feel topsy turvy. But once the Lieberman nurses, doctors, hospice care, and I did our problem solving; things settled down for both Gregory and me.
Now, with Gregory on his next adventure, without my daily visits, and the Care Conferences, and the monitoring of his daily needs and treatment; it feels like Lieberman was but a breath.
During the three days it took Gregory to die, I saved many vivid, sometimes difficult and sometimes joyful, memories of the process. None-the-less it feels like those three days were shrouded by a certain numbness.
The planning of two tributes for Gregory was easy. Gregory's Memorial at the condo (attended by over 100 family and friends) was gratifying and consoling as was the Lieberman Memorial to thank them for their care and support (attended by over 150 staff, residents, and families at Lieberman the following week.)
Now, when I think of Gregory, it feels like his dying was but an instant and at the same time that he has always been dead, when if fact it is just over two months since he died. Strange feeling - ALWAYS been dead.
The thoughts which next occupy my mind then ... based on Gregory and my twelve years seeming like a moment, and his Lieberman stay feeling like a breath, and his death feeling like not only an instant but also forever ... are that my life, now, will last just a few moments longer with the lesson being that I must live each day to its fullest doing things that matter to me, spreading joy and love whenever I can, and doing the best I can without being too unforgiving of myself and my weaknesses and being forgiving of others.
In this thinking and these awarenesses, I focus on the buddhist teachings which explain that our suffering is based on permanent attachment to things which are ever changing. Nothing is permanent.