• I went to speak at an event yesterday and I left profoundly moved. The meeting was held in a church, though the event had more of a "healing" focus. We were waiting for a senior counselor, an exercise specialist and a nutritionist to round out a group that would be advising on how to help body, mind and spirit.

     

    I was the second person to enter the central gathering space. As I chatted with the massage therapist, the only other person who had arrived, she told me she was waiting for the coordinator, Jan, to come. She said they always prayed together - for the world and for specific people - before their meetings. She asked if I'd like to join.

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    I said that was a lovely idea and that I would join them. I have always felt at home in nearly any faith-based establishment. I may or may not agree with all of their tenants, but I know when I'm in the presence of spiritual people, and I feel at home.

     

    Jan joined us in the church sanctuary. There was a recorded chant playing and a small fountain trickling nearby. Neither were part of the church itself. they were brought instead by this group of faith-based, healing practitioners.

     

    We stood in a circle when we prayed. Together, we read a prayer for the world. Then Jan prayed for people she knew. Before I knew it, I was praying for Dorian Martin, who just lost her mother to Alzheimer's disease (see my last post or read Dorian Martin's posts on this site), and her family. Dorian and I have never met. We've read each other's work. We admire each other as writers and as caregivers. We'd like to meet in person someday, but that hasn't happened yet.

     

    I knew her mother had died over the weekend from Alzheimer's disease. I knew the family was in pain. But I know others in pain - others right here in my town. Others I know better. However, out of my mouth came a prayer for Dorian and her family. What surprised me were the tears choking my words and running down my face.

     

    Later, I understood. I have lived through many long goodbyes. I have "recovered" and "moved on." I've healed to a certain extent. I even feel the spiritual presence of my loved ones, now physically departed.

     

    Yes, these tears were for Dorian and her family. But, they were also for me. They were about losing my friend, Joe. About losing my grandparents. About losing my aunt and uncle. About the very long goodbyes, as my parents slowly withered, physically and mentally. Each died so slowly, from dementia and age related issues, that their withered bodies nearly turned to dust before my eyes.

     

    My tears reminded me that I still carry pain in my soul. I march on now as an orphan. I am now the older generation. I will, one day, be the one who is not at the dinner table. The tears I shed during that prayer were tears that expressed my losses, past and present, wrapped in the blanket of sharing that Dorian and I have felt as we post on OurAlzheimer's. Tears of comfort. Tears of companionship. Tears of grief and relief - and yes - tears of joy. Because finally our loved ones are not in pain.

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    Thank you, Dorian, for once again helping me understand more about this journey we share.

     

    To learn more about Carol, please go to http://www.mindingourelders.com/ or http://www.mindingoureldersblogs.com/.

Published On: October 09, 2007