Editor's note: This piece originally appeared on Karen's personal blog 'Missing Jim'
TO FRANCES AND BRAD, MY BEAUTIFUL, LOVING, INTELLIGENT CHILDREN:
My promises to you:
I promise to try to stay sane through this whole long process. Sometimes I don’t feel like I will be able to, but when I am with you, I know I can.
I promise to love you with all of my heart. Loving someone doesn’t mean giving them ice cream and chocolate every day.
I promise to love your Dad too, even when he makes me want to pull my hair out and go screaming out the door.
I promise not to share too much of the burdens I face daily with you. You are only 9 and 12. It is not your load, it is mine.
I promise to be honest with you. Please don’t ask me if Daddy is going to die. We are all going to die one day; we just think we know a better time frame for him.
I promise to try my very best not to take my frustrations, anger, bitterness and loneliness out on you. I know I must seem moody or you must feel like you are walking on eggshells sometimes. I am sorry. I feel that way too.
I promise when I say I am sorry, I mean it. More than you can ever imagine.
I promise to share with you what is going on. I am sorry I cannot tell you everything. I am really trying to be open with you, yet at the same time shield you from what life is throwing our way. I am working on a balance here.
I promise you this horrible experience is going to make you both great contributors to our world and will one day give you strength and courage your friends will not comprehend. This is based on the notion you will both accept the challenge to look at our life as a chance to grow as young adults and not use it as an excuse for life’s misfortunes.
I promise to try my very best to keep focused on the bigger picture: Being a good Mom, Wife and Homemaker doesn’t mean the house must remain dust free and clutter free each and every moment. But please, please try to keep your rooms clean. As we go down this road, I will not be able to stay on you about the little things, or even the big things. All of life’s lessons I am trying to cram in now will have to come back to you as needed. And don’t forget to brush your teeth, eat your fruits and veggies and get a good night’s rest.
I promise I will use all of my energy and will power to stay here, in the now and not get caught up in what lies ahead. None of us really know what lies ahead. We have been told what might be coming our way, but who really knows for sure? I know I sometimes seem too busy for listening about your day at school or coming to sit and watch a game or dance around the living room like we used to. I miss those things just as much as you do.
I promise to provide food, shelter and lots of love to you both. The love will remain unconditional. I can’t guarantee how fabulous the shelter part will be, but we will be TOGETHER. And the food, well, there is a reason I am trying to teach you to cook…..
I promise to work very hard to support our family and provide the things mentioned above, but not so hard I miss you growing up.
I promise to try really, really hard to keep a positive attitude.
I promise I will teach you to do your own laundry. You both already know how to clean bathrooms, dust, do the dishes and mow the grass. I will need your help and one day, not now, you will be glad you helped me so I didn’t have a complete breakdown. (keeping my fingers crossed on that one.)
I promise I will make every effort not to make you grow up too fast. You are in a situation that none of your friends are in. I know you want to fit in and not be different. We are different. But, we will use our difference for a greater good, and at the same time, try to remain “normal”.
I promise, as Dad progresses, to not use you as a Dad-sitter.
I promise to do my very best to show you how happy I am that I am your Mom. When life is hectic and you need me to help with homework, fix dinner, wash your uniform for the game tomorrow, drive you to a party; remember my promise to teach you to do many of those things yourself. I do love being your Mom, but part of my job as your Mom is to teach you to be self sufficient.
I promise to smile and show you how much I love our life, our family, our home. There are days that this will be very difficult for me.
I promise you both that I will keep fighting for more funding for research and that I will not stop fighting until there is a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease.