WELLNESS
02/25/2016 02:51 pm ET Updated Feb 25, 2017

Learning to Enjoy Memories After Alzheimer's

Recently a phenomenon occurred while I was perusing the local shopping center. I was walking towards the bakery section with my keen blue eyes locked squarely on tomorrow's soon-to-be muffin when I brushed against a branch of pussy willow on display in the makeshift flower department.

The soft yet firm bulb of a pussy willow showered my brain with thoughts of the first time I'd ever touched one. I was with my mother. I cannot recall what we were doing when the introduction between myself and the willow occurred, but the tactile pleasure brought on by the brush of an innocent plant such as this filled me with joy.

The odd thing about this circumstance is that when my mind was overcome with the joy of the memory, for some reason the sadness of my mother's Alzheimer's did not try and overcome it. In the past when I have been reminded of a positive memory that Mother and I shared I often find myself ending that memory with the phrase, "That will never happen again." Not because my Mother has gone on to her Heavenly home but because she can no longer express the joys of everyday living.

Enjoying a memory that involves my Mother has been hard to do without the pairing of guilt or sadness to go along side it. And when I found myself standing in the bakery/flower section with a smile on my face without any sadness I realized that for that moment I was simply enjoying a memory -- something my mother can no longer do.

My hope is that as life continues and I find myself reflecting on memories that were created with my mother, the pain of her circumstance won't always try and inject itself into the situation. I would assume this type of emotion must be felt by many people around the globe who have been touched by a loss, illness, or some other life altering situation. It's as though the disease/loss is not bad enough when we're dealing with it in person so we also have to deal with it while reflecting on positive times too. This strikes me as some sort of grief-stricken game of "Where's Waldo"...except this time, you really don't want to find the man with the cane and red cap.

Moving forward as memories continue to revisit me throughout my daily life I hope that Waldo get's harder and harder to find. My hope is that as memories come forward and lift my spirits the sadness and emptiness will not join it. My hope is that eventually I can train myself to simply enjoy the times I have had with someone who inspired me so much. When grief tries to show its' face, I hope to recognize it, control it, and move on -- because for me to enjoy a memory of my mother is simply doing something she can no longer do -- and that is, remember me.