It’s been five days since I’ve had the courage to pull up to my computer. Five days since I heard the news that things were getting close. Very close. Then … three days now of swallowing hard, wiping tears, finding my bearings once more in a world without my friend, Pat.
Friday night, this dear friend took up residence in a place other than his body. After a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, this very young man (think of him as the Michael J. Fox of Alzheimer’s) bravely died in the arms of his equally brave wife.
I’ve never known such a courageous couple!
Jill kept her husband home for all but the last 45 days. Even then, she agonized over relinquishing her caregiver role. Still, during his final hospitalization, she spent every waking moment with him; reading to him; rubbing his swollen feet or soothing his ragged heart; lifting his head to try to engage him in one last conversation. One last moment of connection. One last smile.
We all figure Pat is at peace now, and imagine him — mind fully restored — looking askance at our paltry understanding of where he might be. What he might be doing. And certainly why we’re crying over it all. That would be Pat!
Christmas will always be poignant now. But, I’m listening for a bell. You know that bell — the one from It’s a Wonderful Life. The one that will let me know — without doubt — that another angel’s received his wings. But this time the angel’s name isn’t Clarence. It’s Pat … and he’s my friend.
Pat’s death urges me … compels me … to now double my efforts to find an agent for my award-winning manuscript, All the Dancing Birds. The story tells from the inside-out what it’s like to suffer from Alzheimer’s. It’s a cruel disease and its inner workings are more than unkind. Nevertheless, it’s a story we all need to know. It would be good for us to know about courageous men like Pat who manage to retain their dignity even when all else is lost.
So, Pat, if you’re listening — enjoy those new wings. Take pleasure in that well-earned peace. Oh, and if you get a chance, would you flutter your wings by some really good agent and give him or her a nudge? I’d sure like to have that book published. After all, it’s a story dedicated to you!