She liked being reminded of butterflies. She remembered being six or seven and crying over the fates of the butterflies in her yard after learning that they lived for only a few days. Her mother had comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn't mean they were tragic. Watching them flying in the warm sun among the daisies in their garden, her mother had said to her, see, they have a beautiful life. Alice liked remembering that.
... just because [butterflies'] lives were short didn't mean they were tragic... See, they have a beautiful life.
The well-being of a neuron depends on its ability to communicate with other neurons. Studies have shown that electrical and chemical stimulation from both a neuron's inputs and its targets support vital cellular processes. Neurons unable to connect effectively with other neurons atrophy. Useless, an abandoned neuron will die.
I smile, loving him for changing with me, for going where my Neglect has taken us, for getting the new me.
Her ability to use language, that thing that most separates humans from animals, was leaving her, and she was feeling less and less human as it departed. She's said a tearful good-bye to okay some time ago.
Her mother was Jewish, but her father had insisted that she and Anne be raised Catholic. So she went to mass every Sunday as a child, received communion, went to confession, and was confirmed, but because her mother never participated in any of this, Alice began questioning the validity of these beliefs at a young age. And without a satisfying answer from either her father or the Catholic Church, she never developed a true faith.
It's the closest place to nowhere that she can think of. And nowhere is exactly where she wants to be today.
You can be in Downward Dog, hating every second of it. Or you can be in this pose, peaceful and nonreactive, breathing calmly. Either way, you’re in this pose. You decide the quality of your experience. Be the thermostat, not the temperature.
And you, Mom. I loved you. You've asked if i felt and understood that you loved me. of course I did. And you know this. I loved your love because it kept me safe and happy and wanted, and it existed beyond words and hugs and eyes.
And while a bald head and a looped ribbon were seen as badges of courage and hope, her reluctant vocabulary and vanishing memories advertised mental instability and impending insanity. Those with cancer could expect to be supported by their community. Alice expected to be an outcast.
Accepting the fact that she did indeed have Alzheimer's, that she could only bank on two unacceptably effective drugs available to treat it, and that she couldn't trade any of this in for some other, curable disease, what did she want? Assuming the in vitro procedure worked, she wanted to live to hold Anna's baby and know it was her grandchild. She wanted to see Lydia act in something she was proud of. She wanted to see Tom fall in love. She wanted one more sabbatical year with John. She wanted to read every book she could before she could no longer read.She laughed a little, surprised at what she'd just revealed about herself. Nowhere in that list was anything about linguistics, teaching, or Harvard. She ate her last bite of cone. She wanted more sunny, seventy-degree days and ice-cream cones.
Why? What's wrong with being emotional about this? why is that a negative thing? Why isn't the emotional decision the right decision? asked the woman who wasn't crying.
She wished she had cancer instead. She'd trade Alzheimer's for cancer in a heartbeat. She felt ashamed for wishing this, and it was certainly a pointless bargaining, but she permitted herself the fantasy anyway. With cancer, she'd have something to fight. There was surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. There was the chance that she could win. Her family and the community at Harvard would rally behind her battle and consider it noble. And even if it defeated her in the end, she'd be able to look them knowingly in the eye and say good-bye before she left.