I used to be that person who thought life was a joyous ride full of bumps and turns, but was meaningful. Well, I still am that person, but I’ve reached a level of understanding that many think they are already at. I thought I appreciated life and was taking in each second to its full potential, but I was wrong. When my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I had no true grip on what that meant. “Oh, she forgot when her hair appointment was. No big deal.” If I knew how this disease was going to quietly tear down who my grandma was until she was only a memory; a lost soul consumed in a body that was only thriving from what medically is considered still alive, I would have cherished every second I had with her.
People live each day, surrounded by comforts others pass on, but nobody realizes how much those moments mean when they exist. As the disease progressed, I realized my true grandmother would never return; the grandma who brought bags full of candy in her purse so my brothers and I could sneak some during church, and who’d make her grandkids’ favorite tuna noodles every visit no mater rain or shine.
Everyday I thought there was no way my grandma could possibly get worse. She’d already forgotten how to get dressed, where she was, how to laugh with the same joy she had years before, or how to beat out every player in poker which she never failed to do, but that’s when my fears crumbled and became a reality. My grandma no longer knew who her family was, she wandered the halls for hours completely confused, and she became violent-a startling side I had never seen of her. Her new language of gibberish decayed into silence and my grandma refused to eat or drink. Holding her hand as she died was so disheartening. I couldn’t bare to let her go, but was relieved her tremendous struggle was now at an end. Only after her death did her simplest routines become so important. Not a day will go by when I eat a piece of Juicy Fruit gum and not think of her. Nor will I color and not remember exactly how she taught me to darken the edges first and gently shade in the center. These memories that my grandma could no longer keep are what that teach me how to cherish every moment.
I believe in embracing every second to the fullest. I believe in never taking things for granted. I believe in holding on to every memory with the purest joy in your heart. You never realize how much something means until it’s no longer there, whether it’s something that leaves you or something you leave. My grandma left behind all her memories without choice. That is why I believe that memories are what keep us strong, mold our hearts, and comfort our souls. Cherish them.
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