When I was a kid, my mom bought me a bookmark with my name on it. It read: "Cassandra: helper of mankind." I remember her beaming and telling me how perfectly my name definition fit me. I was always my mom's helper. When she had an important job that needed to get done, she knew that she could ask me and I'd be there to help her out. Whether it was grocery shopping with her, baking all the Christmas goodies, running errands (once I had my license)...mom knew she could count on me. I remember her always telling me that I was an "altruistic" person. At the time, I had no idea what that big word meant.
Now that I am older, and somewhat wiser, I know what it means to have altruism. I don't know if I truly fit that description, but I do know that I care deeply about other people. My dad has always been an amazing example of helping and serving others; I try to model myself after him. I love the feeling I have when I help another person. When I see people troubled with different issues, I like to try and be the friend that can help them solve their problems.
Since my mom's diagnosis, I've been racking my brain trying to figure out how I can help to make this situation better. Nothing I can do will make this disease go away; in that sense I am completely helpless. Yet there's been this nagging feeling that there is something for me to do, some role that I can and must play in all of this. There will come a time when she will need round-the-clock care. I want to be there to help with that. Realistically, I have my own home and 5 children to take care of. How can I take on the role of caring for my mom without neglecting my family? I worry about the financial toll all of this will take on my dad. Not that he's a pauper...but in-home care is vey costly. What can a small person like me do to help in such a giant situation?
And then it came to me. I can blog.
Initially, I started this blog as a means of therapy for myself. I then opened up by sharing it with those family members and friends who are closest to me, to keep them up-to-date on mom's condition. Recently, I decided it was time to share it with anyone who was interested in reading; friends from church who have interacted with mom (and wondered about her strange behavior and memory loss), others who are dealing with the same heartache.
More recently, I have expanded my thinking and seen a bigger picture. Something much bigger than myself, much bigger than just posting an update on my mom every few weeks . This vision started with a mere suggestion of a friend (my sister's friend, to be exact). After reading my blog, she told my sister that I am "a brilliant writer" and suggested to her that people are able to get paid for their blogging.
That's when the wheels in my head started turning. I don't know that I'm a "brilliant" writer. But what if I could transform my blog into something more? What if I could make this little blog of mine into a place where people can turn for answers? A place where people can read and learn about the journey of dementia through my experiences. A place where they can turn for support and additional resources to aid them in their own journey. And all the while, as I am able to (hopefully) help others in their journey, I can earn a little money to help fund the cost of my mom's care.
I've seen the vision. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm eager. I'm afraid of failure. But I have the chance to do something.
Over the next few weeks, my blog will be under construction as I try to bring this vision to life. Please be patient with me as I work out all the kinks. When the time comes, and I'm ready to move forward with this next step in our journey, I would love it if you all moved forward with me. Follow my blog. Tell your friends, tell your family. Tell others who are struggling with this same hardship. I need a large following to begin the next step of this process. Leave your feedback. I want to hear from you.
There comes a time, in each of our lives, where things become hard. Sometimes the challenges we face become unbearable. We can choose to dwell on the negative, or we can try to make a positive out of the trials we face. Losing my mom is hard. In fact, it is the biggest challenge I've had to face. I feel determined to do something positive. For my mom, I will try to live up to my name.