Dad passed away October 9, 2007 and Mom passed 36 days later on November 14, 2007. Today, I can now reflect back and remember how everything in my life had come to a standstill. For a year and half prior to their passing I spent every waking second of my day attending to them. They both had Alzheimer’s and, not only did it strip them of their memory and their life, more importantly it stripped me of who I am. I can now look back and realize that since February of 2006 my life has been on hold. The world and everyone around me has kept moving forward. I have stood still. Grief has been an ongoing journey for me.
In the fall of 2007 when my parents passed away I don’t even remember the leaves turning their brilliant colors of the rainbow. I don’t even remember them falling off the trees. Thanksgiving came and went and instead of preparing an elaborate dinner for my entire family, I hid at our mountain home, so I could grieve. I wanted to be alone and did not even want my husband there with me. I still needed God to hold me. My husband surprised me that cold Thanksgiving Day and brought me dinner. As we sat there quietly eating our dinner I didn’t feel blessed or thankful, instead I felt I would never recover from the loss of my parents.
I moved my parents from Texas to Virginia to be closer to me because, I knew their disease was progressing rapidly. After my parents had arrived here in Virginia I remember my Dad being so enthusiastic at seeing the true four seasons of the year. He was blessed to get to enjoy the beauty of spring, with the daffodils and tulips everywhere and he got to enjoy our mild summers. God granted him two of his last wishes in life. He still yearned for the changing colors of the leaves in the fall. We did not get to share it together, but I truly believe that my father’s last wish was granted. He is now with our lord in a glory of color, I have yet to witness.
This past Thanksgiving, 2008 was just as difficult for me. I dreaded this time of year. God was still there working behind the scenes so to speak. My oldest daughter announced to the family that her and her fiance wanted to be married at Thanksgiving. Last year we hosted everyone at our home and celebrated their marriage. I still felt disconnected, but as a mother I was so very happy for them.
Thanksgiving, 2009 is right around the corner. I’m preparing to have my family here with me. My husband and I will cook and enjoy the day and be grateful to be with family. I know that I will shed a tear, wishing Mom and Dad were here with us, but I also know that time heals. There are still many days that I still grieve deeply. There are always reminders. I miss my Mom and Dad very, very much and always will. I know that God is here beside me reminding me of everyone I still have here with me, to stay in the present and be thankful for every new day.
Deborah Ann Tornillo
Author, “36 Days Apart”