Triggers

New Years and birthdays are a natural time to reflect. I wish I could have changed the topic for my mind’s reflection this past birthday, but the mind often drifts to where it wants or needs to be. That topic happened to be grandchildren.

As I’ve reported numerous times, our 5,000 mile walk across the country helped Cindy’s brain health. She could do and remember things at the end that she could not at the beginning. Another thing that happened during the journey was Cindy’s blossoming enthusiasm for having grandchildren. At the beginning of the hike I was thinking “no way,” but towards the end I entertained “perhaps.”

Now the verdict is most certainly in. Cindy will never experience the grandchildren which at one time was her greatest hope for the future. I don’t know why that became the focus of my birthday reflection, but now I must deal with those thoughts.

My thoughts were not those of contemplation, more like frustration, even anger. But why? Since the time of her diagnosis Cindy handled her mortality calmly. Back when she could express herself Cindy never let on she was upset about not being around for grandchildren. If she is upset now there is no way to tell, but I highly doubt this to be true.

I feel a little bad for our kids; they won’t have their Mom around to spoil their children. Yet neither of my parents were around to spoil our kids. I view that as unfortunate, but not tragic. I doubt our kids lamented not having my parents around. For that matter I did not miss any of my four grandparents. Three were deceased before I was born and the other by the time I was one. I was mostly a happy child without them; I assume the same will be true for my grandchildren to be.

That leaves just one person that this might be all about, me. I tell myself I’m mad at life being unfair to Cindy, but maybe this really is about me not being able to witness Cindy enjoy her grandchildren. Worse still, maybe grandchildren will become a trigger for missing Cindy.

I already have some evidence suggesting this. Grocery shopping has been the one time I feel the pain of losing Cindy. For the sake of our own wellness, I’m very much against a “woe is me” attitude by caregivers, but neither should we bottle up emotions. For me a healthy release of emotions had been when I’m alone in the grocery store. I’m OK with that.

The last time I went grocery shopping there were no emotions, because I already let those emotions out when thinking about Cindy not experiencing grandchildren. Maybe that’s a good thing for now. Maybe there’s a better way to channel when I will miss Cindy than every time I grocery shop alone (“emotional mess to clean up in aisle 4”).

Grandchildren should not be the trigger either, but I suspect the sheer joy of them will overcome that. Maybe this new development is just a time of transition. I’ll let the thought of grandchildren be the trigger for missing Cindy until they actually arrive. Then my mind can drift to where it wants or needs to be in search of a new trigger.

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