Writing About the Hardest Moments

hard (adj.): •requiring a great deal of endurance or effort.
•difficult to bear; causing suffering.
New Oxford American Dictionary

 

Caring for an aging parent with Alzheimer’s involves many things that are hard: looking on as her body withers; dealing with whatever today’s health crisis is; watching helplessly as her mind drifts and slowly fades away.

When I sit down to write about my experiences with my mom, the first sentence of every draft is, instinctively, “The hardest thing about dealing with an aging parent who has Alzheimer’s is…”

Obviously not everything can be the hardest. Our language says so.

Hard. Harder. Hardest.

Verbal markers of the degrees of hardness – with hardest being the degree where nothing can be harder. Some things are hard, some are harder, but the word hardest implies that there’s really a limited number of things that can be hardest.

Everything about caregiving is hardest: at the moment one is dealing with whatever issue is at hand becomes the hardest thing to deal with.

Forget all the other hardest moments from the past. This is present, and right now, this is the moment that is the hardest.

Whether it is caring for an aging parent or a terminally ill loved one, each moment of crisis, each moment of heartbreak – that is the hardest thing right now. Making it through those moments are the hardest thing right this moment, right this instant.

Everything about caregiving is hardest: at the moment one is dealing with whatever issue is at hand becomes the hardest thing to deal with.

Past hardest moments no longer matter, no longer count on the scorecard of hardness. Each new moment begins with no expectation of comparison to the past. In the present moment, the issue can be dealt with and classified: this was hard, harder, hardest. If this moment is labelled as hardest, that’s all that matters. The hardness of a situation is relative to the intensity and difficulty of the moment.

When I sit down to write about my experiences with my mom, I need to amend my opening sentence.

“At this moment in time, the hardest thing about dealing with an aging parent with Alzheimer’s is…”

4 thoughts on “Writing About the Hardest Moments

Add yours

  1. A pediatrician I took my son to when he was very young told me , when Jacob was 4, that “4 is the hardest year.” I realized that he had said that at 3, and called him on it. Then I realized he’d said it at 2 and at 1. “You caught me,” he said. Whatever age your kid is at, THAT is the hardest.

    Another similarity between early childhood and old age. It’s always the hardest.

    Sending you a metaphorical hug.

    Like

    1. All hugs accepted … metaphorical or otherwise. 🙂

      I think your comment about the pediatrician is worth a blog post – if you’ve not written about it already. It’s quite funny!

      Your comment made me think that whatever the feeling is at the moment is the ‘est’. Whether it’s the happiest, saddest, or anything else, it is that moment which is happiest relative only to that moment. It would be sad to think that we had only one happiest moment in our lives — though, conversely, it might be nice to only have one saddest.

      I think what I have been learning, really learning, through experience, and not just saying the words, is that life is about each moment. We all say that: seize the moment, live for the moment, live in the moment. And we try. But, I think there is a moment (!) when it all comes together – an ‘aha!’ moment when we really understand the significance of moments.

      And, here’s a virtual hug. Thanks for always making me smile. 🙂

      Like

      1. Glad I made you smile, John! I’ve shared this story in comments, but not in a post. So maybe you’re right!

        I learned yesterday that my childhood best friend’s mother — who I remained close to even when her daughter became a religious nutcase, has Alzheimer’s It also took another mother I was very close to. Horrible, horrible thing to happen to smart, loving, wonderful people.

        Keep your chin up, my friend and keep writing.

        Like

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