“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.” – Unknown
Ten years ago I underwent a particularly challenging time in my life. My father, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years earlier, was showing a marked decline in his mental state. It became increasingly evident the medications that once kept his Alzheimer’s in check, were now failing and his once brilliant mind and precious memories were being overtaken by this terrible disease. At the same time, my mother had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was facing major surgery, a lengthy recovery period, and months of chemotherapy. At this point our family made the painful decision to admit my father to an assisted living facility.
I immediately took on a new role, that as caregiver to my beloved parents. My sister and I alternated caring for my mother post-surgery. In addition, I attempted to juggle a full-time career, with spending time with my dear father.
On November 8, 2008, my father succumbed to his disease. I was devastated. In reality, I knew my parents wouldn’t live forever, yet somehow I thought they were infallible and would never leave me.
As I grieved the loss of my father, I continued caring for my mother, who was now undergoing chemo treatments every three weeks. My mother fought with every ounce of her being the disease that had invaded her body, but ultimately, the two-plus years of chemo had taken their toll, and my mother lost her valiant battle on March 31, 2011. Again, I was devastated. In the course of three years, I had lost two of the most important people in my life. My mother and father were not just my parents, they were my role models and my heroes. I continue to miss them terribly, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about them. Their pictures, which adorn my writing space, constantly inspire me to be all I can be.
The point of this message, if you are being tested and challenged, is to assure you that “the pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow.” While I experienced the deep pain of seeing my parents suffer and ultimately pass, I came out a stronger person as a result. And it’s that new strength that I rely on every single day to get me through the tough days in dealing with the daily challenges associated with my husband’s dementia.
There’s no denying life is wrought with challenges, but it is how we handle those challenges that define us.
Blessings and peace to you as you travel life’s journey.