Death and Life in America

I watched this today. It sparked a lot of thoughts in my mind and heart.

http://www.upworthy.com/the-death-penalty-doesnt-even-make-sense-to-people-who-support-the-death-penalty?c=bl3

Basically this gentleman – the man in charge of “The Innocence Project” – has brought up the fact that capital punishment in our country simply doesn’t work. The cost, the fact that it doesn’t stop people from committing murder, that closure never really comes to the families because the appeals process and such takes an average of 26 years. The fact that keeping someone alive in prison for life – without the possibility of parole – is much more cost effective. The fact that innocent people have been found and proven to be innocent while on death row.

Now please, don’t leave me comments about how “a bullet only costs 38 cents” or how our system needs to be reformed. I agree – the system needs to be reformed. Also, a bullet costs about 50 cents these days for a rifle. It is not the actual cost of the execution (what ever form it takes) that is so expensive. It is the cost of the lawyers, the requisite trials, the keeping someone alive in solitary confinement, on death row. It is much more expensive than keeping someone for life. Death row costs more than general population, and the trials are paid for by us. However, I also think all the appeals are necessary to ensure we have a guilty person on death row.

Google “the innocence project” if you don’t think innocent people are convicted of murder All. The. Time.

I grew up in a conservative household. We were always pro death penalty. In fact, I have been pro death penalty until very recently when my ideas of the death penalty were challenged and I looked into it more. My mother was more than pro capital punishment. I can remember her reading about cases where people killed children, or tortured them, or raped them… I remember her telling me they should be covered in honey and set on an fire ant hill. Or worse. I think she toned it down for me.

Part of me understands this retribution thing. This wanting justice or vengeance, or “closure”… Honestly a big part of me does. I suppose it is human nature.

Part of me can’t understand it. I had a boy friend in high school who went crazy, shot his step mom and brothers, and went to prison. Only his father and mother were left. He took their entire family away, including himself. They didn’t want retribution. They still loved him. And I couldn’t imagine seeing him on death row. Or tossed out to an angry mob. Yes, he was sick and what he did was wrong. He will never leave prison, and hopefully people are safe from him.

What I am trying to say is I have had an opportunity to see both sides of the issue personally.

Which brings me to the point of my post.

I think our feelings about death and life in America are skewed. We have lost our way on this issue.

The majority of our population approves of the death penalty.

We own guns – not just hunting rifles, but guns. Real, manly, kill an intruder if he comes in your house, guns. Riffles, sure, but also pistols, shot guns, sub machine guns. We own guns that we really have no need to own unless there is some kind of insane invasion. We own guns made for the military or the police force. What do we need these guns for? Is the zombie apocalypse really coming?

There is a relatively large part of our population that is anti abortion to the point that they value the fetus’s life over the life of it’s mother or doctors. There are people willing to shoot abortion doctors, bomb abortion clinics, and accost or even kill pregnant women going in to the clinic. How does this make sense?

Our children can’t play “cops and robbers” or “guns and arrows” or any other such things at school anymore, because children bring REAL guns to school and kill their fellow students. Let me rephrase that. We have children KILLING CHILDREN all the time in this country.

In 2008 1,035 children were murdered in America. (it seems very hard to find newer stats – perhaps they are only put out every few years? if you find them please post in the comments so I can look them over.) Of those, one in 5 were committed by other children. That means 207 children were MURDERED by other children. That does not include the accidents that caused death.

We have people walking into movie theatres, the empire state building, schools, colleges and malls shooting other people they DON’T EVEN KNOW!

And THEN we have people (large numbers of people) saying “well, if just one well trained guy in that theater had a gun on him, this would have been stopped much more quickly.” And “this is the reason we need to own guns.” This is not the reason we need to own guns. Owning a gun didn’t change this situation for the people in the Aurora theater. I am willing to bet at least one person in that audience owned a gun, and it didn’t change the situation. (edit – at least 2 of the victims in this theater shooting were trained military members who owned guns. They didn’t have their guns with them and were unable to “subdue the subject.”) So now what? We are supposed to wear our guns all the time? Sounds like hysteria to me.

We have an elderly population kept alive by medicine, sent to nursing homes, uncared for and forgotten. We have seriously ill people who no longer want to live with pain and agony, but it is illegal to help them die if that is what they wish.

I am not anti-gun. My family owns a gun because my husband used it at work for several years driving armored trucks. I am pro choice. I am not anti hunting, anti old people, or anti modern medicine. I’m not even anti war if it is truly in defense of my family and what I hold dear.

I am anti violence, and I simply don’t understand why our country is so mired in it. You can’t turn on the tv without seeing some terrible violent true life act being re-enacted, reported, or broadcast. You can’t read the news without reading about some terrible incidence of violence happening.

I am trying to understand it all, and I have tried to research as much as I can, but nothing seems to answer my queries. No one can give any good answers as to why our country – America – who has the “most freedoms”, the “best life to offer” is so violent and so dangerous to live in.

And it is, compared to the rest of the first world, it is violent and dangerous.

(I say first world, because obviously it’s more violent to live in Darfour or Iran.)

The only answer I have today is that we start with a government that is based on violence. Based on defense of our rights, based on the premise that every citizen should have the right to defend themselves, their families, and their basic human rights – through violence. We have an enormous military system, in order to defend ourselves. We have gun laws, make my day laws, get your ass off my porch laws and every law you can think of to defend our right to defend ourselves. We are willing to put to death people who cross these laws. We are constantly arguing about what life and death and what other violent acts actually “mean”. What defines rape, what defines murder? There are different “levels” of killing someone in our legal system. Manslaughter, homicide, self defense…

It goes on forever.

When will we learn that until we truly value other life, until we truly feel that human life is precious and good and something worth protecting, we will not change the cycle of violence in our country.

When we take that big, scary step toward truly valuing each person, (not just the productive, or the sane, or the healthy, or the children, or the upper class, or the educated, or the white, or the intelligent….) when we take that step in our culture, perhaps THEN we will be able to turn the corner of our violent cycles. Perhaps THEN we will stop the cycles and become a more peaceful people.

It will take all of us, all of us working together, remembering that we are no better or worse than the next guy. It will take all of us to stop the violence and to move on toward peace.

Other People’s Pain

Sometimes when I feel like life is too hard, I go to this blog:

http://aninchofgray.blogspot.com/

This woman has endured more than I could imagine making it through. And she has shared with the world her and her family’s journey.

I was originally directed here by Momastery – another blog – if you want to read her stuff, just google Momastery – so much good stuff there too.

ANYWAY, last fall I was directed there, and I started going back through posts to try to understand the story. It was then I found the heartbreak. 

You see two sweet smiling funny kids on their first day of school – normal mom blogging stuff. 

Then you see a memorial to the son.

Then you see the story of what happened to the boy a few weeks later.

You read the story that changed the lives of this family, and those around them, and honestly, anyone who reads the blog. The way she writes what happened that day makes you FEEL like you are there, seeing the pain and panic. 

They lost their son in a terrible accident – he was swept away by a storm.

I hurt just thinking of what that could feel like.

Grief is a crazy thing. You go through cycles. For a while you think you are doing pretty well, and then another wave of grief kind of knocks you over and tumbles you about again. 

It isn’t fair to compare grief, or pain, or life circumstances. Everyone feels them differently, and some people can’t imagine going through what YOU have gone through. 

That being said, every time I feel sorry for myself, or angry with someone else because they have it easier, or like I might crumple from MY personal stressors, I do one of two or three things.

1. I end up having an appointment at the major university hospital in our area. The hospital where the worst cases go, the hospital where the welfare cases go as well. This week I saw a woman going home after some sort of open head surgery. It looked so painful I got nauseated seeing her. Sometimes I see a child burn victim, or a mom pushing her bald “baby” outside in a wheelchair to see the sun after chemo therapy. 

2. I go to this blog – this inch of grey blog – and I read what has happened in HER family lately. The heartaches and the inspiration, and I absorb it, and realize I CAN do what I need to do.

3. I take my son and go do something fun with him. He makes me happy. He makes me whole. I am lucky to have him. I cherish our time together. Hearing his laughs makes me feel better again. 

Life isn’t about always knowing the answer, or even about always having a smile. It’s about finding the good along your path. It’s about finding the stuff that makes you happy, it’s about finding the stuff that gets you through, it’s about finding the stuff that keeps you out of bed for the day. Some days life is just putting one foot in front of the other, but it helps to get out of your head and to realize that guess what? You don’t have it as bad as others. There are a million people out there who have it worse than you do, and you know what? That’s a good thing for you. Keeps you from wallowing. Keeps you from hurting so much.Lets you move on with your day. 

 

 

Music

Music has often been a saving grace for me. I am not a musician. I took some piano lessons as a child, I can’t play much now, I don’t sing on key, or sometimes at all because I have a paralyzed vocal chord. Perhaps I was a musician in a past life or something – because music sneaks into my soul and heals it. It really does. In high school I wrote a poem about this very thing, and a couple lines from it have stuck in my head for all these 20 some years since I did.

“The music creeps into the crevices of my soul and becomes my salvation.” That is one line, but the whole thing is about music healing me, wrapping me up and helping me.

As I have gone through life different music has helped me get past hard times, it has helped me get through hard things, it has made good times happier and fun times more enjoyable. Music really has enriched my life. 

In high school I listened to a lot of different types of music, and it all led me through the pains and hurt and happiness I was feeling back then. I listened to Garth Brooks and GNR (Guns and Roses) and I listened to Sir Mix A Lot and The Black Crows, and just about anything in between. They all got me through that part of my life. 

Lately this song has been in my head, and I think for a good reason. It’s Natalie Merchant’s “Life Is Sweet.” 

http://www.nataliemerchant.com/r/retrospective/lyrics/life-is-sweet-2

You can read or listen to it here.

In it she says:

“They told you life is hard 
it’s misery from the start 
it’s dull and slow and painful

I tell you life is sweet 
in spite of the misery 
there’s so much more 
be grateful

Who do you believe? 
who will you listen to 
who will it be? 
it’s high time that you decide 
in your own mind”

This really strikes home with me. Sometimes we get so caught up in the dull, slow, painful part of life that we forget that there is so much beauty to see. We forget all the wonderful moments and we rush through trying to get PAST the hard, mean, painful parts. I think this is normal – it’s our fight or flight response. Of course we want to run from the pain and the anguish. 

What we forget, when our bodies and brains are telling us that we need to run or fight, is that there is beauty in all of it. That even though we have misery right now we will also find beauty and hope and peace and laughter in there, if we look. 

I am suggesting this: (to myself and anyone else who might read it) 

We are more than our base desires. We are more than our instincts. Let’s try to calm down that fight or flight and really feel the pain, and the hard, and the slow. Really feel what all of that is teaching us, is giving us. AND at the same time stop, take a deep breath, and look around us to see the beauty in the moments. 

Only we can decide what our outlook will be. Is life dull and slow and painful? Or is it sweet in spite of the misery? How much to we have to be grateful for. If you are able to read this I have to assume you have quite a bit to be grateful for – even if you don’t think about it every day. 

I am choosing to go forward from this moment on to think about the sweet, the beautiful, the good – and even when there is misery I will choose to see the things that make life wonderful. 

 

Time for a Russian post.

Today the boy (5.34 years) had skateboarding camp. In which he will learn to skateboard. He can push it and get up on it, but that is all. He, of course, thinks he will start at the “obstacle course”. He goes over to the highest point on a giant slope on a giant hill on the skateboarding park and I have to physically stop him from going over the edge. He DID get to practice turning and going through a very small bowl, which was harder than he thought it would be. 

So, the dude who was doing the skateboarding camp has a skateboard store and he tells me we need new bushings. That the bushings on our skateboard are too hard. Which I could see by the way the skateboard leaned to turn – which was NOT AT ALL. (of course I didn’t know they were CALLED the bushings – I just thought it was too tight.) So I go to the skaterdude’s store and get the $15 bushings which were the best ones – and probably too much for a 5 year old. But whatev. He can turn now.

As he is working we get into a brief discussion about different types of parents. He has seen it all. Parents that want to bubble wrap their kids to go to the skatepark. Parents that want their kids to be what they wanted to be, so they sign them up. Parents like me who ask what the kid wants and tries to encourage him. 

Then he says “The Russian parents are the craziest though.” (we have a large Russian community here, but he doesn’t know I’m married to a Russian.) I said, “Oh really?” He goes on to tell me about a Russian dad from last week. The boy who wasn’t much older than my boy fell and hurt himself. Skaterdude says it was a good fall and he was kind of worried the kid might be hurt – he was crying and stuff. The Russian dad says “Is there blood? Well, what is problem? Get back up.”

My husband is much like this. He doesn’t understand kids crying over little owies, he doesn’t understand why the kids in Karate are punching a heavy bag and not each other… (it must not be real Karate…) We have had a lot of conversations about kids who cry too much. If the boy gets hurt around my husband it’s usually “get up, you’re ok.” When he had a broken bone in his foot for 2 weeks (the doc thought he was ok, but the pain never went away and when we xrayed it you could barely see a tiny fracture) my husband just kept telling him to stop crying.

But THIS – this basically wraps up the whole concept perfectly. I have had very similar conversations with my husband about this. And my MIL thinks my 5 year old should be doing pull ups because he is too weak. She wants us to put up his own pull up bar. (the karate teacher says he’s solid and strong, by the way) 

Anyway: meet Stephanie – she married a Russian too. She depicts it perfectly.

http://likethevodka.com/2012/02/15/kids-sports-russia-vs-america/

Grieving

Aside

I am learning about grieving.

I have had big losses before, but I wasn’t in a place to learn from them. I was too young, or too “not in the moment,” or too “masking my feelings with unhealthy coping skills.”

Today I was able to get some things done. Little things, but things I needed to do. I also got my son and I out of the house for a while. Which we both needed.

It occurred to me as I was sitting in Karate class with my thoughts that part of death is the living people moving forward. Moving on. And it has a lot to teach the living if they let it. Some days moving forward is simply putting one foot in front of the other. Literally moving on.

One day I will be ready to jump back into our real life. One day I will have to. I am thankful that it is our summer break and we didn’t have to come back to ALL of the things we do during the school year. It might have broken me.

For now I am thankful for putting one foot in front of the other. For moving forward little by little. That’s what I could manage today. And that’s ok.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Hmmm. That’s weird. Cause in my life it always feels like that. And that’s half of my problem.

My son starts kindergarten in a little over a week. This week he went to “kindie camp” which is for new kindergartners to kind of “learn the ropes”. He did really well 3 days (really really well today) and not so hot the other day. And guess what? I was sitting on the couch last night crying. In part because of his bad day at camp and how worried I am for kindergarten.

See, it’s not JUST kindergarten to us. It’s his first year of real school. It’s his first chance to really love learning in a formal setting. He loves it at home and I don’t want to loose that. It’s his first chance to get to know the kids he will be with for the next several years. And make friends. And not be “that weird kid.” It’s his first chance to really be on his own without an aide or specialist shadowing him all the time like they did in preschool. It’s his first chance to show himself he can be independent. It feels like a lot of pressure for an almost 6 year old, and for me.

Today I realized he is either picking up on my anxiety or has his own anxiety about school. Every day this week he has worried about being late. Even though we are never late. Today he asked me to drive him because it’s what we normally do. (we drove to preschool, or he rode the bus and I drove him home.) We live close enough to walk and we will on normal days because the drop off line is just too ridiculous for me to deal with… but right now there isn’t much traffic there. So we drove. In the car he asked me several times about if he will have friends, talked about how hard it is when he gets angry, etc. I feel badly that a kid has so much anxiety about kindergarten. He is excited too, but he is apprehensive like me.

Then I thought about it.

Guess what? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s ok to have good days and bad days, and I am going to try to tell him that, without giving him permission to act out or throw fits or get in someone else’s face. I mean, come on, I have good and bad days all the time. Weekly. Some days part is really good and part is really bad. That’s life.

I just hope I can help him to cope with the bad days in a positive way and to enjoy the good days.

That’s all any of us can do, really. Right?

Self Storage

Do I LOOK like a storage unit? Apparently.

My husband’s uncle (which isn’t really his uncle – more like a grandma’s cousin’s brother or something) left several large items in our basement promising to be back in 6 months. We have his washer/dryer, his bed, his kitchen table, etc. They normally spend 6 months in Russia and 6 months here. This year they didn’t come back after the six months because they both had good jobs there, so we still have their stuff – it’s been a year.

My husband’s best friend and cousin (who is really not a first cousin either but I don’t really remember the relation) is moving this month. His house sold earlier than he thought it would and the apartment they are moving to isn’t ready, so my garage is full of his stuff. I mean packed full. My car is very hot in the summer if it’s not garaged. Just saying.

The above cousin also had the above uncle’s car at his house – with some stuff in it (blankets and such). Now said car is parked out in front of my house – actually in front of the neighbor’s house because we already have too many people parked at our house. It has expired tags so I’m sure we will get some tickets. 

My brother is moving to California. Right now we also have his car at our house because we are trying to help him sell it. He will also need to store some stuff here for a short period of time while he moves. 

I really don’t mind any of it that much – I mean, yes it’s a hassle sometimes – I want to make our basement a more “useable space” but I have to figure out what to do with all the crap down there first. Also, I don’t like parking my car outside. Especially in the heat. But really, it’s not that big of a deal.

I have to wonder, though, if we should start opening up self storage places in Russia. They obviously haven’t ever heard of them, so we might make a killing….

Broken

I have written about how I feel broken – physically – some. I have a broken sterum that won’t heal. I have chronic migraines and kidney stones. I have damage to a shoulder/neck muscle. I have no lymph nodes on the left side of my neck, so stuff doesn’t drain well from my head and face. I have joint/bone pain and I don’t move well some days. 

All of this is nothing compared to how it feels to be broken mentally and emotionally. 

I went through some very hard years as a young woman. It was at least partly chemical and hormonal. That didn’t help people understand it any better though. I took handfuls of pills that were supposed to make me feel better but didn’t. At one point I took over 20 pills a day – of medication, no supplements. I struggled through life, loosing jobs, loosing friends, loosing touch with my family for the most part. 

One day, with the help of some good friends, I decided I could be more than this. I got a temporary job cleaning and I started going to work every single day. Even though it was really hard. I stopped taking all those pills, even though my doctors thought it was a bad idea. I stopped going to those doctors. I don’t recommend this to anyone. It could have very bad bad bad side effects. But for me, it worked. Those pills were just all counteracting each other and doing nothing to help me. Instead I started making sure I got enough sleep, eating properly, meditating, and exercising every morning. I quit drinking, quit smoking, quit doing any kind of mind changing substances. That all did more for me than any pills. 

The darkness isn’t totally gone. After my son was born, my husband was stuck in Russia, and I was diagnosed with cancer I was a mess. We tried some antidepressants and right away I could feel the old problems coming back. I’d rather be a little depressed than screw up my life again. I stopped them. It comes back now and then – those down days, those broken times. For the most part I can really help myself out of it through these few things I do. 

I have had a rough 3 weeks. My mom died and I got through the funeral, the visitors, the family, and got home with a sick kid and my wits barely intact. I found out over the past 2 weeks that 3 friends have had a “return” of their cancer. (some have just never gotten rid of it) One friend just got DONE with chemo – I mean last week – and although the cancer in her stomach is gone, the cancer in her neck and breasts isn’t. One friend they can’t even FIND her cancer, but her blood work and her other stuff is pointing to it. I have an appointment coming up – on the 14th I go in for blood work and to schedule and ultrasound. Again. It feels like a treadmill I can’t get off of: take a pill every day that makes me feel like crap but hopefully keeps the cancer away, figure out what aches and pains I have to deal with that day, every 6 months go get my blood drawn and an ultrasound done. This last time my bloods weren’t where we want them to be, so this time I am really nervous. Does it help to be nervous? No. Does it help to worry about an appointment I have over a week from today? No. But I can’t seem to stop. I am also worried about some of my family – hoping they are doing ok since all of this with my mom has happened. 

I can understand my mom’s feelings. I know some of it was chemical. Alzheimer’s steals the chemicals and connections in your brain that allow you to function properly. But I also know some of it was that she knew she wasn’t her old self – that she knew she was becoming a different self, and that she couldn’t stop it. Some people might not understand the loneliness and desperation to just not hurt anymore, but I do – I have been there when I was a young woman, and fight to never end up there again.

Today I woke up like I did the past 2 days – wanting to stay in bed all day, wanting to just hide from the world. But I have a son now, and I can’t just stop life. 

Yesterday I promised myself I’d get out of the house. I’d take my son and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. I’d take a walk and get some activity. I’d have a fruit smoothie. Yesterday I also felt physically ill – stomach problems, kidney stone, migraine trying to rear it’s ugly head. I had hoped I would feel better physically today. I don’t. 

I suppose one more day of wallowing won’t hurt. (that’s how the cycle starts by the way) I suppose waiting until my husband is off tomorrow and going somewhere with him would be better – he can help my son and I can just “show up”, go through the motions, and know that it WILL help in the end.

One time when I was in high school a church teacher asked the class if any of us had had serious emotional pain. I had – that’s another story for another time – I had experienced a very traumatic situation when I was 15 involving someone I really loved. I had serious emotional pain after that. He said that most people would rather go through physical pain than emotional pain and I agreed with him. I had had 2 surgeries by then and thought I knew what physical pain was. Now, I do know what physical pain is. I have been in pain I can’t describe with my sternum surgeries. Really bad, paralyzing pain. I would still take the physical pain over the emotional pain any day. 

It WILL get better. Don’t worry about me when you read this. I WILL be fine in a few days or maybe weeks. But I just needed to get some of the darkness out of my head and into words. That has always helped as well – a kind of purging of my mind. 

 

Dear Alzheimer’s Disease:

Dear Alzheimer’s Disease:

My mother was diagnosed with you a little over 3 years ago. We think. She didn’t actually tell us for a while. See, she wanted us to treat her the same and see her as she always had been. I had noticed a few weird occurrences, but chalked it up to stress. She had had what the doctors thought was MS, but perhaps was not at all.

She actually had early onset alzheimer’s and was only 56 when she was diagnosed. Can you imagine? Loosing yourself at such a young age?

My first thought was, selfishly, what will I do without my mom? If I have to face cancer again I can’t do it without my mom. She was there for me through every surgery, every treatment, every big appointment. My first thought was to my safety and well being.

You took her independence. She had a very high functioning job. One that she did very well and loved. One that helped her to thrive and help others who needed it. You took that from her very early into the disease. She simply couldn’t keep up with the meetings, the emails, the needs of all of her employees, students, parents, administrators. She had to take early retirement and at her retirement party she was devastated.

You took her peace of mind. From the day she told us I noticed her researching. She researched constantly, how to slow the mental decline, what doctors to see, what actually helped and what didn’t… She was constantly on her BlackBerry or her laptop, looking up articles, journals, forums, etc. She read books and she told us to read books. She sent us to alzheimer’s facilities to “see how bad they were”. She told us how she didn’t want to end up in a nursing home “with people having to clean her”. As you progressed her anxiety about that grew stronger until it was the thing she thought about the most.

You took time with her family. She became anxious in groups, to the point that she didn’t want us kids to visit. The noise and activity, especially with the grandkids around, was too much. She would have seizures the doctors thought were brought on by stress and end up in the hospital almost every time one of us was to come up for a while. She couldn’t leave the house sometimes and my dad had to go to functions and family dinners, etc alone. Several vacations she wanted to take were cancelled because the simple thought of an airport or hotel or crowds would put her into a panic. She wanted a few last fun times with her family and she couldn’t have them.

You took her memories. She made a video for us all – about 6 months ago – telling us a few stories about herself, talking about us as a family, talking to the grandkids. It was during this video that I saw some real decline. When we were around she could hide it. She could change the subject or maybe we just didn’t bring up “memories” – she could say she didn’t feel well and go lay down. Sure, I noticed when she had trouble remembering her address or birthdate at a doctor’s appointment, but I was only around for those things once in a while and most families know that memory is a funny thing – it can be wiped clean from one area but not another. On this video she said several things wrong – things about our childhood, and perhaps even her time with our dad – that were not quite right. The wrong son was mentioned in a story, the wrong event in a time line…. You know what? She cherished those memories, and you just pulled them out of her head like a string out of a sweater. Like they didn’t even matter.

Most importantly, you took her happiness. The last 2 years of her life she was very unhappy most of the time. She had severe depression that nothing seemed to help. She could not get over the imminent ending she felt pressing down on her. You took every good thing from her and made it bad in her head. In her journal she wrote the last week of her life about not trusting her children and husband. About feeling like we didn’t trust her. She wrote about the sadness she had and the anger she felt. She wrote about the desolation and alone-ness.  You took every ounce of happiness she had and you crushed it.

And I hate you for it. I hate you like I have never hated anything or anyone else in my life. I hate you so much I can’t even put it into words. I want to hurt you and to stomp you and to crush you. But guess what? You even take that. You are not a physical being we can rail against or take to the justice system to be tried for torture. You even take the ability to fight you away.

Finally, you took her life. My beautiful mother; my strong, lovely, vibrant, sassy, wonderful mother; she took her own life a little over two weeks ago. It was her second attempt and this time it worked. I knew she would do it, she had warned us all she would not let you take her down all the way. I just wanted a little more time with her. A couple weeks later my son and I were to come visit her. He missed out on that last visit with his grammie because she couldn’t hold on a couple more weeks. You took my son’s grammie – someone who had helped raise him and had been an anchor in his stormy life. You took her from us.

You are cruel. You are heartless. You don’t deserve to exist. I have no words for the pain you inflict and the hurt you cause. I don’t even know how to start to describe it. So I will end with this:

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

I hate you, Alzheimer’s disease. But I can not wallow in this hate too long. I can not let it take my happiness and peace of mind like it took my mothers. I will focus on the love I have for my family and my friends. I will remember my mother as she was before she was tortured by you, and I will remind my son of her.

Love is the answer. Always.

I just need to hold on to that thought.