Some 20 years ago, before Mike was diagnosed, we tried to visit Mike's grandmother as much as possible. She lived locally and she lived alone. We tried to keep Courtney and Brandon close to their Great-Grandmother, but there were times that Mike and I dreaded the visits.
You see, when her daughter Barbara (Mike's mom) got sick and eventually passed away, her world ended. As a young mother myself at the time, my heart broke for her. No parent should bury their child. After her daughter's death, days turned into weeks, weeks turned to months and months turned into years, yet she remained as emotional as she was the day she passed away. There was not one time that we visited Mike's grandmother, when she did not break down and cry. On one particular visit, I remember saying to Mike "Instead of her focusing on what she DOESN'T have, she should focus on what she DOES have. If I should be blessed to live to her age, I hope I will see things differently".
She lost her only daughter to a cruel disease - yet she still had two sons who loved her very much and remained in her life. One lived out of state and called her every week. He and his wife would visit a few times a year. Her other son lived locally and he called her every day. She also had Mike and his two brothers, along with their respective wives and children. I saw an older woman blessed by being surrounded my family and instead of being thankful for the family she did have, she continually mourned the person she lost.
Lately, I've been finding myself repeating my own words of wisdom...I need to be thankful for what I have, instead of dwelling on all I lost.
I've been feeling sadder than usual lately, for me, Mike and the kids and all that we have missed out on as a family because of this disease. The other day at work, an attorney left work early to take his young son to the Yankee opening game. When they walked out of the office, I teared up. The thought that Mike and Brandon will never share another ball game together hit me hard.
When Courtney gets upset because she cannot go to the college of her choice due to Mike's illness and the financial impact it's had on us - I feel like I've let her down as a parent.
When I hear co-workers talk about holidays, vacations etc. I think of all that we "could have" done.
I need to remind myself constantly:
- I should be thankful for the fact that at least Mike and Brandon did attend one Yankee game when he was well (other children haven't been so lucky).
- I should be thankful that Courtney earned scholarships that allow her to attend college (which other children don't have).
- I should be thankful for all the holidays and vacations we DID have when Mike was well (allbeit the kids were often too young to remember them). We were blessed.
What I need to do is revisit my own thoughts every now and again. Sometimes the best advise you can take is your own. Instead of mourning the life we lost, I should appreciate the life that we now have.