Wrestling with Unshakeable Faith

After a few scares, I have devised a new routine for J, my wife with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The scares were a result of her leaving the house when she wasn’t supposed to, one time late at night. 

J had been going to a program at the Alzheimer’s Association on Mondays and Wednesdays, hanging out with an individual caregiver on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and meeting with a freelance writer on Fridays to capture her memories in prose. 

J is no longer welcome at the Alzheimer’s Association program and it was getting too difficult for J to access her memories to work with the writer without feeling bad. Since I work full time and our children are young adults finding their way in the world, I was concerned about how to keep J safe and engaged. 

Fortunately, this is a problem money can solve, and while I worry about having enough money to care for J in the long run, six years after diagnosis, it’s time to open our wallets, at least a little. 

So starting soon, J will be with a second, less expensive caregiver on Mondays and at an adult day care center on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Her Tuesday/Thursday routine will remain. 

I remember checking out adult day care five or so years ago and thinking there was no way J would fit in with the groups that looked old and significantly impaired to me. When we visited the center last week, Motown music was playing. One woman started dancing. J started dancing with her. J was smiling. I thought, this is worth a try.

Seeing J smiling and knowing she will not be alone makes me remember that there are still good times ahead for us. 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of England, wrote last week about “Turning Curses into Blessings.”  He posited a voice deep within us that says, “You are in this situation, bad though it is, because there is a task to perform, a skill to acquire, a strength to develop, a lesson to learn, an evil to redeem, a shard of light to be rescued, a blessing to be uncovered, for I have chosen you to give testimony to humankind that out of suffering can come great blessings if you wrestle with it for long enough and with unshakeable faith.”

May all the caregivers wrestle with their suffering and may blessings be uncovered for all of us in this new year. 

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