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I Won’t Get Over It

Dear Graham:

Tuesday, March 3, 2020, is the day I died. It is the day my mother, my rock, my hero is slipped into her own world.

We started to notice forgetfulness about a year before. She would be setting the table for our Sunday dinner and would be telling us some family gossip. She would be giving us direction in between the lines of the story and would be, what I would now officially now call multi-tasking. After sitting down for a while she reached over and smack my arm and launch into this very exciting gossip once again.

I knew what was happening, Alzheimers ran in the family. I watched my mom’s heartbreak about 17 years earlier when her father forgot who she was. I watched her swirl in fits of hurt, anger, and heartbreak. So, after finally getting into a specialist, she moved into my house and settled into a routine, and we braced for the next milestone in her decline.

She became what only she would describe as the green dragon. She was just so angry with everyone…all the time. My children certainly had to learn that she was not well and they struggled not to take it personally (that’s a whole other story – but know it’s a huge part of this). My husband, with the patience of a saint, managed as well as he could. But there was this overwhelming guilt that hung over my head. My husband wanted his wife back, my children wanted to be the ones dotted on and I couldn’t remember the last time I was actually alone.

Meanwhile, at work, things are picking up. We are now in the throws of a huge product launch and our deadlines kept slipping. I get it – it’s stressful. My team is working around the clock and I am letting things slip. I’m forgetting things left right and centre. I’m frustrated and frankly not doing so well.

So I was not surprised when last Tuesday, you called me into your office. You leaned back in your chair and started in on me “I don’t know what is happening with you, but you know there is nothing more important than this launch. So you need to roll up your sleeves, get your head in the game, and just get over whatever is going on.

I was done.

I came home, sent the nurse home, put $100 on the counter for pizza, and crawled up onto my mom’s bed. She yelled at me to get out and that she was going to call the police. I sang her favourite song and slowly her brow unfurled. She smiled and launched into the story of why she and her daughter loved that song so much. I listened and cried.

I sobbed, the ugly kind of sobbing. I cried and wailed like I have never cried before and in a tear-filled glance, my mom looked at me (like actually looked at me), put her hand on my face, and said “now now Lanie – just think – the crying will be over soon and the sun will shine again. Be brave little one..” She wrapped her little arms around me, rubbed my back, and hummed her song.

That was the last time my mother said my name. It was the last time she held me. It was for all intents and purposes the night I died.

This is a very long way of saying to you, I am sorry I let you down and no, I won’t get over it.

I won’t get over the fact that I look into my mother’s eyes and I see a stranger. I won’t get over the idea that her heart feels empty. That she seems to look through me and not see the love I have for her. I won’t get over the idea that she would have hated not knowing me.

It is with this heavy heart that I am handing in my resignation. That while I am passionate about all things marketing and the glorious mission this company is on, I am dedicated to my family and to myself. I am dedicated to putting love first and I will do everything I can to not move on from that dedication. I am honoured to give as much love to this amazing woman as I possibly can, while I can. My children are watching, they will remember. So, in my humble opinion, yes, there are things more important than the launch.

I don’t think this is a resignation letter that you have seen before and it is my hope for you, that it is also the last.

I will ask someone on my amazing team, to collect my things from the office. I will be happy to talk to HR about why I resigned and I will also be here, cheering this company on from afar.

Thank you for reminding me what is best in life.

Elaine

Sarah Hineshttps://www.griefadvocacy.com/
I met a man one blurry night in Manhattan, and little did I know, he would be the soil in which my passion for grief work was to be planted. He had been rejected by his family for his life choices and was preparing for death without them. Helping him through his struggle to come to terms with his love for them and in turn his forgiveness while going through treatments, rejection, and coming to terms with his own death and grief was an unimaginable amount of stress and it literally set me in activism mode. It was shortly after his death, I completed training in Palliative Care Home Hospice. I volunteered in men’s homes for 5 years before the medications became reliable and being gay wasn’t always breaking family ties. Some of the most amazing times I have had in my life have been in the homes of dying. Strange, yes.. but so beautifully honest and raw. I then completed the Children’s Palliative Care Training and dove into the heartbrokenness of dying children. It is in these years I really came to understand just how fickle death can be and how much we embrace death and our grief. It seems that in times of what we would consider the most unimaginable, we are able to find glimmers of beauty, cracks of light and the nourishment in tears. Over the last 20 years, I have carried on with my education in a variety of ways including Coach and Leadership Training, Orphan Wisdom School and Grief Groups. My connection into corporate grief has been slow. It’s something that most organizations do not want to think about. I am inspired by those that see value in bringing grief work into the way they lead teams through uncertainty and the trust this work builds.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I so feel your journey deeply, Sarah. My mother’s dementia journey started nearly 15 years ago. She hasn’t recognized me for several years now, thought when I call and sing her happy birthday she knows who I am, or so it seems. Perhaps not. Mom would wander the neighborhood before we knew she was out the door. Dad had developed Parkinson’s and got to where he couldn’t take care of her. He’d promised not to put her in an assisted care center as long as he could. Three weeks after they entered one together, he passed on Christmas Eve morning. She was safe now. That was in 2012. A side note… I live in AZ now having moved from Indiana 40 years ago. Dad came by and hugged me on his way out that morning. It was so real I put my arms around him by instinct.

    We caretake my mother-in-law now, though she’s in the early stages. I’ve learned enough Russian to handle necessary communication. We’re both Cancers and a day apart (well with 23 years difference. I think that helps our ability to communicate without needing words. She’s still strong, though, and spends hours and hours in the back yard picking up leaves and throwing them into the xeriscaped area bordering the yard. Can’t keep her from doing it. It’s probably healthy for her as much as she bends, stoops, rises and walks for hours on end, with breaks for food and water. She’s safe, at least. We’ve been lucky with her decline. It’s slow. We know it’s coming. My wife has a hard time with it as she doesn’t recognize her mother now, distant and child-like in her behavior with occasional fits. For a time she was taking trips around the neighborhood and talking to people, or so she told her daughter. She hadn’t left the house. Good thing she’s enjoying her trips.

    It’s a tough situation to go through, yet there are still ways to have fun and enjoy each other in the process. The little child in the adult body just wants to feel cared for and safe, attitude aside.

  2. Heart wrenching, as I felt yesterday upon receiving a note from a friend of over 40 years. She informed me she put her husband in a home.
    Just before coming to where I am at the moment; I had them to supper. My friend was having a hard time dealing with this. It seemed to creep up so quickly. Wow, I feel very emotional as I read this. You’ve touched a nerve! So many of our loved ones seem to be experiencing some form of the many under the Dementia umbrella. All I can say is Let’s be grateful for what we’ve got while we still have it – no matter what. Thx for this, Loreexx

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