Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I had a dream last night that I spent the entire last mile of the marathon crying my eyes out. People kept asking what was wrong and all I could say, like a little kid, was that I missed my mommy. I woke up and it was September 21st - Alzheimer's Action Day.

I've spent the morning wondering if what I'm doing here is actually activism in the traditional sense of the word. Honestly, some days, when I feel obligated to say something activist-like that inspires people to some kind of action, I can't help but think what I'm doing is more like a warped kind of mourning that just happens to have positive side effects.

My fundraising letter included a short paragraph about the public health impact of the disease and the economic, social, and even political effects of Alzheimer's if allowed to continue unchecked. But the majority of my message was mostly about my family and how hurt we've been by the withdrawal of Mom from our midst over the past few years. I've limited my fundraising efforts to the people I know and I haven't done anything to raise awareness of the disease or its effects to the greater population. I haven't volunteered my time (or what's left of it) to my local chapter, I haven't participated in any fundraising events, and I haven't told people I don't want to know (i.e. coworkers - only one is on my Facebook page and she rocks) anything about what's going on in my family. Selfishly, I guess I just haven't wanted people to know because there are times I really just don't want to talk about it...and isn't that what an activist is supposed to do? I don't want Mom's condition to be something people ask about just to make small talk or to show they remember something personal about me, but at the same time, I feel like I'm letting "the cause" down if I'm not constantly out there spreading awareness every chance I get...and personal stories of loss are the most effective tools an activist has at their disposal. After all, as Joseph Stalin said, "the death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic."

As I've said before, accepting my invitation to Team Run2Remember was like a partial coming-out for me - outside of the family and a few friends, even the people who knew what was happening to my mother really had no idea how I felt about it until I started the blog and wrote that letter. But I don't want to spend all my time remembering and letting this define me, or I'll be a constant tear-stained exhausted mess like I've been this morning. Sometimes there's nothing I'd like more than to forget, if just for a little while. And that's when the anonymity of this quiet, personal advocacy has been a blessing.

Maybe one of these days I'll be strong enough to stand up in front of a group of people and tell them my story and inspire them to action, or march on the Capitol with picket signs...but I'm not there yet. I just don't have the words. So instead, my request to everyone who reads this is to find the words for me - call your mothers, talk about a favorite shared memory, and tell them how much you love them.

That's my kind of activism.

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