A “Resurrection” of Memories

22 Sep

This summer offered me the special opportunity to be with loving friends for a week in Vermont.  The weather was beautiful, our environment picture-perfect, and the hospitality genuine, fun and loving.  I traveled with a friend who had lost her husband to Cancer one year ago.  Together, we chatted for 7-hours on the train going north and every day of our visit in New England, as well as our return trip on the train.  We never tired of conversation and seemed to focus so much of our discussion on our husbands.

In our exchange at the beginning of our trip, we focused on our feelings of sadness of the loss of our partners.  Hers, of course, as the physical loss of her husband to Cancer and mine, the mental loss of my spouse to Alzheimer’s.  No matter what our situations, we both felt the same grief and ache of losing our companions forever and we fully understood each other.   Seven hours of travel north was a gift for both of us to openly share what only the two of us could fully understand.   As the week advanced, however, I noticed our focus began to change.  We began to recall happy stories about our husbands, their habits, their expressions and memories of our travels with them.  Suddenly, our talk was filled with happiness, smiles and laughter.

It was not until I came home that I realized, for the first time in a long time, I was able to remember Ernie as he used to be.  Ernie came alive in my thoughts and even in my dreams. I could mentally see him during the healthier, good times. How comforting this was for me!  I pulled photos of our trips together during the good years and placed them around my home to remind me.  My counselor called this ability the resurrection — the ability to look past the sadness and pain of the more recent years of illness to the memories of the happy years.   For me, Ernie seemed to come back to life!

I have worried that my memories of my Ernie would be only of these last 6+ challenging years with his Alzheimer’s. Now, as I continue to live through Ernie’s decline with his disease, I work on replacing my sadness with a past happy memory of joy, laughter and love between us. I put a picture on my dresser of him laughing and I go back to that moment, that place, that feeling of joy that we both felt.   I am thankful to have the awareness that I CAN resurrect the good times and memories of Ernie as he really was and I know that that is what he would want me to do.

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One Response to “A “Resurrection” of Memories”

  1. boomer98053 September 22, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    How delightful. Your husband is more than the disease – and now you are able to relish the man with whom you have spent so much time in your life. To be sure, you’ll have more longtime past memories than the ones currently being stored in your memory bank.

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