On Meetings of Chance

I am sitting in the waiting room of the O’Neal Cancer Center at UAB where Dan is having a PET Scan done, the final test before he officially begins the Alzheimer’s clinical trial. It’s been a tough day for my sweet husband, with the chaos of the upstairs renovations going on non-stop and no coffee or food allowed today until after the test. I was glad that I was able to go with him, as he was already quite anxious and navigating the hospital maze and parking can be stressful.

Top deck views…

The tech came out and told me that Dan would have to sit for the dye infusion for close to two hours, so I decided to walk around a bit and explore. A clothing and jewelry shop was set up in the atrium, and I spent some time looking and picking out a couple of things. The kind older woman who was running the shop asked me what brought me to the hospital today and I told her about Dan. I don’t make a habit a confiding in strangers, but there was something about this woman that touched a need in me to share what constantly weighs on my heart and mind.

I knew why as soon as I told her that Dan would be entering an Alzheimer’s clinical trial. Her face softened with compassion as she listened and then she shared that she had cared for her mother who also dealt with Alzheimer’s. She talked about the struggles she faced as her mother’s condition worsened, and offered some welcome advice about how to deal with those changes, encouraging me to keep my sense of humor through it all. She joined a support group, but she said for her it wasn’t as helpful. I know that everyone’s situation is different, but it was truly comforting to be able to talk openly with someone who had gone through what we may be facing.

Another couple supporting each other through scary times.

I am fortunate to have family and very close friends to talk to, but sometimes it is difficult to share because I don’t always know how to put into words the depth of what I’m feeling. I can get it out through playing my instrument sometimes, but that is a one-way process (unless there is an audience). It felt like I was meant to run into this woman, to hear her stories and feel her compassion born out of heartbreaking experience. It made me realize that I am not alone, that Dan and I are not the first people to face the awful realities that Alzheimer’s can bring.

When Dan came out of testing and we began the circuitous walk hand in hand through the hospital toward the parking garage, we passed the shop and the woman who had been so kind to me. she looked our way and I told her thank you again. She smiled a knowing smile at as and said, “Be strong. Everything will be okay.” And it will, no matter what we face. I hope the woman realizes the importance of gift she gave to me and could feel my gratitude.

4 thoughts on “On Meetings of Chance

  1. You are not alone. There are many of us out here and discoveries are made every day. Sending prayers for strength and humor from Mississippi. Jane

  2. I truly believe you were meant to meet her today, Denise. I wish I had some miraculous advice for you but the words just don’t come easily. I’ve been following your journey as you blog and I just want you to know I think of you often, as my mother in law had Alzheimers so I know there will be challenges. You and Dan seem to be facing this with real grace so I know you’ll get through this. Prayers going up every night on your behalf.

  3. Hugs Denise. You and Dan are in my thoughts and prayers. So many are facing this disease alone – I’m relieved you have friends and family to support you both.

  4. Sometimes the people who work in hospitals are angels for us! It can be so challenging to feel complex emotions. They all serve a purpose and offer insight, messages, and sometimes wisdom. I’m so glad you have music.

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