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Months of constant contrasts

Aug. 16, 2023:

If you’ve seen me in the last few weeks, you may have noticed a little spark that I’ve been missing for the past year. I’m coming out of my grief and sorrow. I know this because I have energy. Food tastes good to me now. I want to be engaged. I even would like to do more volunteer work.

In contrast, let me show you what I started to write for this column last month, but decided not to because it would be too depressing for my readers.

July 2023:

I don’t want to write this month because I am so apathetic that I can’t think of anything to say that won’t make my readers feel badly. I made a promise to them and to myself that I would be totally honest in these columns. And honestly, I’m very down. I’m sad because my daughter is sad. And I can’t make anything better for her. She is scared and sad because she thinks I’m the heart of the family and that when I’m gone, the family will fall apart. She doesn’t think there will be anyone left to share her now 20-month-old son with after I die or become disabled. She wants to cheer me up. She wants to inspire me. She wants me to be the old me. But I’m not, and there is nothing I can do about it.

I’m never hungry and no food tastes good to me. It’s nearly 5 pm and I’ve only taken 1,000 steps today. I don’t want social engagement. I don’t clean, cook or garden. I barely take care of my personal appearance. I’ve tried different meds to no benefit so far. It’s getting worse almost daily. I feel terribly guilty about imposing this on my husband, family and friends.

So that’s what I can say at this point. I’m sorry this is so bleak. Maybe something will change.

Aug. 26, 2023:

Things have changed. What caused the change that put the spark in my eyes and skip in my step? Largely, it is due to a new medication that really works for me. But other things have happened as well. Because the new medicine let me take in information that previously was blocked, I heard my husband say to me: “You’re not dying, Kim, but you’ve been preparing to die for months now. Maybe it’s time to live.” My daughter reminded me that my father, who also had dementia, lived until he was 85 years old without serious symptoms. Maybe my dementia will take that course which will give me another 15 plus years of relative health.

Some other things have occurred as well. My friend Chuck Carson’s words, which were published last month in The Durango Herald, give me assurance that I’m not such a burden on my husband, at least not yet. This kindness gives me buoyancy and confidence.

One other thing has shifted. The land I live on is precious to me. My longtime dream is that it will be passed down and cherished for generation after generation. I realize I have no real control to make this occur, but I want it so badly that I’ve chosen to believe that this is what will happen after I die. I realize how complicated this is and that it may not happen. In fact, it likely will not happen due to family circumstances, but for my own peace of mind, I have decided that it will be passed along and loved by my progeny. To believe this gives me peace and takes away sorrow. And so I do.

I feel good for now. Really good. And I want to thank all of you who have encouraged me and supported me, and loved me. You have no idea how much that means, even in bleakest times. Thank you.

Kim Martin splits her time between Hesperus and Durango, and is a former instructor of Asian history, writing and comparative cultures at Fort Lewis College.