“Hi Dad, it’s so good to see you!”
He doesn’t look at me. He just keeps sitting there, staring off. So I walk over to him and put my face down to his level, trying to find his eyes with mine.
“Hi Glen, how are you?”
This time our eyes connect for a moment and he gives me that big grin. The Glen Grin. Even though he can’t say much anymore, that grin is as genuine and full of life and love as it ever was.
That grin of his is the comfort of every visit for me.
That day we had a really good visit, one that will stay with me for a long time. We looked out the window for rabbits (which never came), I fed him some lunch, we went for a walk around the halls, and we even danced to the Beach Boys.
Even though these visits aren’t always easy like this day was, I can’t express the amount of joy I get every time I see him. When I visit him, I don’t allow myself to focus on who he was before. Instead, I focus on what is important right now:
He’s happy, he’s comfortable, and he’s well taken care of. He’s loved. And he’s still here.
It’s been 18 months since I’ve written. I can’t believe it has been that long, and I know a lot of you have wondered why I stopped writing. Well, I stopped blogging for a few reasons but when I really think about it, there’s one reason that trumps all others in my not writing:
I wanted to protect you.
My dad has progressed. Substantially. And I didn’t want to upset you when you hear the ugly truths of this disease and how it is taking him over more every day. A lot of these things are hard to see, talk about and hear about.
But you know what? He’s still here and we owe it to him to still be there for him.
Talking about the hard times (as well as the good times, because there are a lot of those in this journey as well) is how we can end the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It’s how we find support from one another, lean on one other, and can be there in different ways for one another. And a surprising thing happened: when I stopped writing, that’s when you all supported me more than ever in this journey.
I see the stats of this blog. People are still reading it – every. single. day. My Instagram account is full of support from old and new friends I’ve made from all over the world who are going through this same struggle. I’ve met many strangers who tell me they’ve read my blog, and they tell me how much it means to them.
And then there’s always this small silence where I can hear them asking silently, “Why did you stop?”
I can’t thank you enough for the number of kind messages I’ve received thanking me for doing this blog. For saying what so many more want to say but can’t. I’m going to keep writing for them. I’m going to keep writing for everyone out there living through this painful experience, who have been touched by it in some way.
And, of course, I write for my dad.
** If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, my account is @thebrookewoz. Please don’t hesitate to send me a message if you need a friend to talk to who understands.