A Nightmare Laid Bare #ENDALZ
In a life of wholeness we may face brokenness and endure woundedness, but our suffering will not be meaningless. Meaningless suffering is soul-destroying. —Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu, Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference
From the Prologue to A Path Revealed How Hope, Love, and Joy Found Us Deep in a Maze Called Alzheimer's
I had a recurring nightmare as a boy. I dreamed I was riding a bike when I slammed into an invisible wall. I always survived this crash without injury. But after waking up in a cold sweat, I was left asking these questions: Why can’t I see the wall? Can someone show me how to avoid that wall? Why am I feeling so lonely?
These were much the same questions I asked when my wife Martha ran headlong into an invisible wall called Alzheimer’s. She was diagnosed with this disease in 1997 at age fifty. I didn’t see the wall up ahead. Neither did Martha. We never expected it; we never had a clue. And never had we felt so abandoned and alone. Little did I realize how dramatically our life together was about to change.
The story I’m telling is about a young family’s sudden shift from a comfortable, middle-class American life into an alien world shaped and defined by this insidious disease. Though we were forced to face this disease, our story isn’t just about Alzheimer’s. You or a loved one may be staring at your own crisis—cancer, stroke, job loss, diabetes, heart attack, home foreclosure—you name it. Regardless of the crisis, the potential for emotional and psychological upheaval—alienation, depression, fear, anxiety attacks, a cold numbness—is much the same for victim and family, for care-receiver and caregiver.
But this is not a story about hopelessness. Rather, our story traces a different path that emerged during our family’s darkest hours, a path that we did not foresee. Encouraged by a Protestant minister and friend, just after the diagnosis, Martha and I drove from our home in Florida to visit a Catholic nun in Kentucky. This path first appeared among the hills and back roads there.
Watch Caring for a Loved One with Alzheimer's on Amazon Video