My day began at a grueling 5am. I had busily been rushing around the night before with thoughts of “don’t forget to take the trash out” and “did you pack your electrical adapters” charging through my mind. In addition, many friends were calling to wish luck and peace in the travels. So, the night before the great, big, work trip was late and frenetic!
Even before the sun was up, my boss was at my home to pick me up. We drove into the City to arrive with at least 2.5 hours to spare before my flight. Watching the beautiful fall hues become illuminated by dawn’s breaking was peaceful for us both, despite the minor trafficking we were finding. Our conversation flowed to different tasks to do at work as well as the present challenges we were facing in life.
I brought up a conversation that I had had the night before with a great friend. Even though she was calling to wish me well on the trip, she asked about my mom. I unleashed this major statement about how I was dealing with the manifestations of the Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Soon, I was confiding something that I hadn’t been able to yet say: I’m struggling in this, finding it so painful to see, and yet feeling so guilty that I feel this way. I continued sharing and sobbing with my friend, stating that nobody gets it. I’m a young adult, and none of my friends have parents with a degenerative disease. And my lovely friend Lisa said, “Kate, take care of yourself. That is your job. You need to be the best for yourself first, so you can figure out how to be there for your mom”. I went to bed, not with answers, but at least with a new path.
In the morning, since we had left so early from my house, we found that we had time to spare. My boss and I headed over to her friend’s parish where he was presiding at the morning mass. We three walked over to the small, urban Queens chapel, to be greeted by 5 or so regulars. After his homily, Jeff asked if there were any intentions- peace, prayers for family, guidance for those in leadership. And then one young man spoke up.
“I ask for prayers for my Mom, who is a parishoner here and is in the final moments with Alzheimer’s. I also ask for prayers for myself, as I just moved back here a few weeks ago and am looking for employement”.
I think my heart leapt and broke in the same moment. Here was someone who knew my struggle, and even more intensely. I wasn’t alone.
At the sign of peace, I went up to him and said “My mom has it too. You and your mom are in my prayers”. He shook his head, smiled, and said thanks.
As I left the church, to rush off to the airport, I realized that this gave me a sense of solidarity, a sense of hope. I could now take peace with me across the globe, knowing no matter where I am or what I encounter, with faith I am never alone.