I published! Baby Jesus and Electro-shocks

My dear readers, I miss you. There’s been a lot going on lately and I haven’t been able to write. I’m hoping to get back to it soon. In the meantime, here is an article I wrote for Aleteia.org about my experience with Electro-Convulsive Therapy, and how they are helping me slowly learn to give up control and put my life in God’s hands. Merry Christmas to all of you!

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“I don’t know who you are, but you’re welcome to stay.”

Ima and Marta

There have been a lot of comings and goings in our house lately, and my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, can’t keep up. She walked into the living room yesterday, saw my husband playing the piano, and said “oh, are you spending the night too? Well, I don’t know who you are, but you’re welcome to stay.”

Can you imagine being so generous? I’ve heard that when Alzheimer’s strips away everything else, it leaves the core personality. My grandmother, for instance, was reduced to one word near the end, but that word was “honey.” The doctor was impressed. “I’ve heard a lot worse words from Alzheimer’s patients,” he said. “Your grandmother must have been a loving woman.”

Earlier on, when my third baby was a newborn, I was changing her diaper and she peed all over the place. As I tried to gather clean clothes and mop up, she lay there, soaking wet and wailing. My mother rushed in and picked her up anyway. She couldn’t remember the baby’s name at that point, but it didn’t matter. She was a baby who needed to be held.

It seems that my mother has forgotten almost everything but how to love. There’s a high chance that I will get Alzheimer’s myself when the time comes, and I’m scared of what the disease will reveal at my core. I hope that, as with my mother, it will be love.

Only Heaven

I like to sing hymns to my babies at night: they make nice lullabies, and they’re a good shot in the arm for an exhausted mama.  Tonight I was singing “…and I will raise you up, and I will raise you up, and I will raise you up on the last day,” and I thought sure–on the very last possible day.  I’m not trying to be funny here.  Sometimes it feels like God waits until the last minute.

My mother’s Alzheimer’s is progressing terrifyingly fast, and every morning she suffers through an attack of spiritual doubt and misery.  This morning she told me “everyone keeps talking about mercy…all about mercy….”  She couldn’t finish her sentence, but I thought I caught the implication: where’s the mercy for me?  I didn’t know what to tell her.  I believe in God’s mercy on the last day, but I don’t know why, for some people, He doesn’t send it earlier.  Where is the mercy in my brilliant, wise, eloquent mother spending the last ten years of her life in confusion and humiliation?

I know I’m missing something here.  I know–I believe–that a life of hardship can have more joy and peace than just the promise of heaven.  But I don’t see it right now.

Sometimes a crumb falls
from the tables of joy,
sometimes a bone
is flung.

To some people
love is given,
to others
only heaven

–“Luck” by Langston Hughes