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quiet endurance and unbroken commitment

quiet endurance and unbroken commitment

by Andrea | Dec. 17, 2017

In my last post, I gave you a glimpse into the beautiful life of my sister, Mary. It was only a glimpse, but when any of us spend even a moment to glimpse into the beautiful life of another, it can be enough to ignite a spark of that life in our own. It can be enough to open our hearts and minds to new possibilities that did not exist prior to that moment. We may not always be aware of it, but beneath the surface of our human interactions, those sparks are like vectors to our future self.

When someone we love passes away and we are profoundly impacted by grief and loss, those sparks can be more intensely active within us. At times like this we are vulnerable, soft, open and raw. In this receptive state, an unbearable tenderness wipes away any sense of separation, and we are in touch with a deeply felt connection to our loved-one’s essence.

I experienced this in myself and also witnessed it throughout the days leading up to my sister Mary’s passing. My other sisters, brothers and I clustered more closely together, expressing only gratitude for each other and for Mary, acknowledging how she will always be with us. I saw this in so many people who came to celebrate Mary’s life. But most of all I witnessed this in Mary’s husband, Ron, and their three sons, Ian, Brian and Brett. Their kindness and generosity poured through their broken hearts in the final days of Mary’s life and continued through the wake, funeral and beyond. The boys each gave a eulogy, bringing laughter and tears to all present. As I listened to each of them, I felt the essence of my sister tangibly alive and showering the congregation with her kindness, wisdom and humor, evident in some of Brian's words:

...They say you can tell a lot about a person by the legacy they leave behind. My mom taught us how to love and care for others, and as a result, my brothers are my two best friends. My mom was married to my dad for 46 years. 46 years. Most people can’t stand to be around my dad for 46 seconds, (LAUGHTER) so if that doesn’t show her patience, I don’t know what does. They were a great team. My dad went to visit her in the nursing home every day for 5 years. Such dedication, passion, and love. That’s my dad. We learned when she was first diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s that the life expectancy was 3-5 years beyond diagnosis. She lived for 10, and I truly believe that we were blessed with another 5-7 extra years because of him. Because how much he cared for her and loved her. She was so lucky. So are we…

I love what Brian says. His humor and kindness are so reflective of his mom. I love what he says about his dad, and how Mary was blessed with many more years because of him. It is true. Ron did visit her every day, in fact as many as 4 times a day. Each time she would see him, he lit up her heart.

The eulogies given by Ian, Brian and Brett honored Mary's life fully. They did something else too. They gave us a glimpse into the depth of love in their dad. Alzheimer’s, by its nature, will test us all to the core—but if there is a gift at the end of this disease, I believe it is in the victory born out of quiet endurance and unbroken commitment. It is in the dignity of the unsung hero and the strength of the human spirit embodied in anyone who has lived with a loved-one with this disease. 

MaryRonMary, Ian and ShadiMary and BrianMary and Brett

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