* My Journal * I have now been living through several months of feeling better than I have felt in probably years. I keep feeling some sort of sense of relief inside of me. The extreme anxiety I was living with seems to be evaporating into no more than a small stream instead of a swift and flooding river. I still get that tight feeling at times...it is manageable . I truly believe this all started nearly a decade ago when I helped move my parents into senior living housing. That was when my mother's Alzheimer's condition was "kicking" into full gear of complete hard to manage chaos. This led into severe stress on my father that streamed into several years of him battling critical illness. I was working full time. Bryan and Amy were young in elementary school. Mom and dad were needing lots of help as well as tender loving care through such a difficult stage. This was getting hard. And it was dragging into years of unsettled stress with little room for rest. Finally, it all seemed to come to a head when I got the breast cancer diagnosis in May of 2011. Fast forward....I'm doing well as I try to get more sleep, eat healthy, exercise, practice yoga, and not allow myself to feel guilty when I'm not being productive. Then there is Mom....my dear mom who I love so much. She has been living in the Alzheimer's unit of the nursing home for nearly five years. Mom's disease has taken on so many twists and turns experiencing many different stages of the cruel illness. I have gone through my own stages of when and how I visit her depending on my emotions. I used to visit Mom mostly during meal times to help feed her. Meal time in the Alzheimer's unit can unravel into many unsettling and chaotic situations. I have been cursed, hit, yelled at, and spit on by patients my mother lives with when visiting. I sometimes get a bit tired of the chaos. Mom is getting thin because her disease is now causing her to forget how to swallow. She doesn't really understand the "concept" of eating. Recently I changed my routine and I have been visiting my mom after lunch. Several months ago we started hospice for mom. Since then, Mom has been placed in her bed after lunch to sleep or rest for the afternoon. The people caring for her are focusing on keeping mom comfortable. Now when I have been visiting, it's just her and me. I go into her room while she is in bed. It is much quieter. These are some tender moments with her. I sit on her bed next to her. Mom is awake part of the time and we have conversation. These are not normal conversations. She talks and I talk to her. Her words are not words. Sometimes she will say a real word or a name I recognize. Once in a while she can actually recite a small sentence. Basically our conversations make no sense at all. I respond to her abbreviated sounds. I ask her questions. She comes and goes in these "jibberish" exchanges, not always aware that someone is near her. Yet, sometimes I'm able to make her smile. I find myself stroking her hair, rubbing her back, and holding her hand the way she used to do for me. When she was well, she was always there for me and comforted me in my times of need. Today, as I try to feel like I'm comforting her, I think in return she is once again comforting me. God bless you mom. I love you. That's a good thing.