Dreams in Pieces

I am still in a strange place as I try to process what is happening to Dan since his early stage Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He begins the clinical trial at UAB soon after one more test. He is in good spirits most of the time about it all- but that’s my Dan; always doing his best to see the bright side of things. I am trying, too, but I find that I am frightened, deeply sad, and also angry with this cruel disease that stole away parts of Dan’s father and my granny, along with countless others. We are hoping and praying that Dan gets the actual medication instead of the placebo in the study; no matter what, at the conclusion of the study he will have access to the medication. The world needs this good and kind man running at full speed. I need him, too.

My heart.

The biggest things I notice so far are short-term memory lapses and repetition of stories and events, or remembering events incorrectly. We are learning how to work around them; he has an early hair appointment; I set an alarm with a reminder just in case. We have had each other’s backs in life for the past 20 years and we’ll just keep that going. The irony in all of this is that I find myself worrying about Dan so much that I become forgetful of my own things. My students have been understanding and supportive, which has been a great comfort. I have felt so scattered this year, especially this spring semester. I’ve returned to the frustrating frozen place again where I desperately want to get things done, but can’t seem to move forward until the dam bursts and I am finally free to move and think clearly again.

My students sent this to me- hanging out after a successful UAB Clarinet Symposium a bit ago. Such good humans.

Life goes on, though. We are preparing for the final renovations on the upstairs of our 1920 home and all of the worthwhile chaos that will ensue. We also fostered and adopted a dog, but after realizing the dog would never stop wanting to hunt and kill our cat Shiva, with the help of the rescue we found a wonderful home for her with no cats. We tried adopting a second time and fell in love with a big, goofy, 2-year-old border collie/ Great Pyrenees who is obsessed with Shiva, but only wants to play. Other than needing obedience training (summer project), she is going to be a great dog for us. Sweet old Marley is patient as always, accepting anyone and everyone into our little family.

Marley and Finn, both adopted from Two by Two Rescue here in Birmingham.
Marley as the patience of a saint.
The girls enjoying the views from the top deck.

It probably wasn’t the best idea to disturb the peace we had with just Marley and Shiva by bringing in another dog who still has a lot of puppy in her, but it just felt right. Dan has been such a sweetheart about it all, thankfully. I am hoping that Finn will help to keep Marley young and more active, as she is a great exercise buddy for us. Maybe I just needed the distraction to help ground me with everything swirling around. Whatever it is, Finn has sure added a lot of life into our home, along with laughter – and yes- a bit of the frustration that comes with living with a large, goofy, and clumsy dog. We’ll get there.


The semester ended on Friday and I got to perform with the Alabama Symphony on Saturday evening. Sort of nice to end this crazy semester getting to remind myself that I am a performing musician. Dan sat up on the loges during the concert, smiling down at me. It reminded me of the first time I saw him; I was rehearsing with the orchestra and he was walking up in the balcony of the beautiful concert hall that he managed for 15 years. We went to lunch together and were never apart after that. When you know, you know.

Dan and Finley

As of today the summer ‘break’ begins. I am Associate Chair of our Department, so I have administrative/computer work to do but no teaching. I’ll also be doing some traveling to Florida to help my sister prepare for her move to Birmingham to live with us, to Nebraska to rehearse with my BFF and Amicitia Duo partner for our performance in Denver for ClarinetFest®️ in late June/early July, and hopefully to our special place in Western North Carolina to celebrate our anniversary, possibly look at a few cabins, and see some dear friends. I’m hoping to use this less structured time to get into some good routines with food and exercise. Stress has never kind to me physically or mentally, and I know getting those routines in place will help me be able to handle everything in healthier ways.

Cycling with Dan is the best!

The biggest thing I am working on is to be more in the moment, enjoying the beauty of spring and this time with Dan where I’m not constantly running from one commitment to the next. It can feel like my dreams are in pieces sometimes, but they’re not; they are all around me waiting for me to figure things out and piece them back together again. I will never forget how fortunate I am in many, many ways. I just have to remember to breathe, to do my best to release the worry and fear, one day at a time.

8 thoughts on “Dreams in Pieces

  1. Wonderful to hear from you again. What a hero you are putting your back into all the heaving strands of your life. All the best to you, Dan and your fur children.

  2. So lovely to hear from you, Denise.
    Your pictures tell your story so perfectly.💞
    You continue to be such an inspiration on how to live your life, inspite of all of the road blocks, thrown your way.
    Many hugs to you, Dan, and your 3 fur babies. 🤗❤️
    Please continue to share your journey, when you are able. 🙏

  3. You’re doing so well moving through complicated and challenging times! Finley is gorgeous. My mom has Alzheimer’s, and it’s definitely shifted our relationship, but not for the worse. With the care she receives from my niece (whose attitude and hard work and humor–and struggles are a lot like yours), my mom stays happy and healthy most of the time, and very active, too! Even if different, many happy years can lie ahead. And you know your loving readers are here for you when you need to share struggles and grief! Lots of love!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s