“I never knew what it meant to live in the moment, until now. The present is truly a gift.” Amara Walker is a journalist, news anchor and CNN correspondent whose mother is living with Alzheimer’s. This is Amara’s story, in her own words.
I miss my dear mom so much sometimes, it’s hard to breathe. I miss her warmth, compassion, nonjudgmental style, social intelligence and bright personality.
I miss holding my mom’s hand, walking through the mall on one of my many visits back home to California; our conversations would range from fashion to the myriad of life lessons she had for me. I miss our long phone calls and her longingly asking when — and if — I would ever move back home to California. She occasionally exhibits these traits now and then, but with Alzheimer’s, time is our enemy and it’s chipping away at her essence.
Sometimes, I’ll go through our text messages dating back to 2018, when I suffered from potentially deadly complications after giving birth to my daughter. My mom was so worried about me, but also deeply in love with her first grandchild, who she had yet to meet.
Sometimes I will peruse a trail of messages reacting to each time I was anchoring on CNN or reporting live on location. My mom would comment on everything from my hair to my on-air delivery; she was my most loyal viewer.
I miss my mom being my mom, annoying me with unsolicited feedback, or incessantly worrying about me. She was my best friend, therapist and advisor all in one. I hate talking about my mom in the past tense. She’s still here with us, but as she battles moderate-stage Alzheimer’s, I know things will never go back to the way they used to be.
Relishing Mother-Daughter Moments
Through the pain, I’ve found myself clinging to each moment, fleeting as it may be, when I see my mom being my Omma (Korean for mom) again. That’s what carries me through my mother’s Alzheimer’s journey — cherishing the good days.
Today, I relish the happy moments, including her impromptu piano performances at home. She is self-taught, and I hope her knack for music will never fade. I often record her singing on my phone and smile to myself whenever she is surprised by my ‘beautiful voice,’ as if she is hearing it for the first time. And I now appreciate the times she reminds me to go to church. She has her master’s in theology and was always religious. It signals to me that my mother is still the woman who always prioritized her Christian faith.
A New Outlook, A New Approach
Recently, my mom affectionately called me her ‘sweet little sister.’ My old self would have frustratingly corrected her. Today, I’m gratefully living in her world. The fact that my mom is able to somehow recall that we share the same blood and feels that she loves me like a sister, warms my heart. It could be worse, right?
Through my grief, I remind myself that it’s not all about me. My dad, who is 80 years old, selflessly cooks every meal, bathes my mom, makes sure she brushes her teeth and takes her medications. Caring for my mom undoubtedly takes a toll on him both physically and emotionally. My brother and I try to be there for him as much as we can. I know my mom would be grateful if she knew our family is closer than ever, in spite of our grief.
My mom always told me her happiest moments have been with her children. I’m so grateful her joy is still evident when we are together.
I never knew what it meant to live in the moment, until now. The present is truly a gift. I love you, Mom. This Mother’s Day, and every day, I celebrate you.
About: Korean-American journalist Amara Walker was born in Los Angeles and today lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children.
In addition to being an Alzheimer’s Association Champion, Amara speaks out against anti-Asian violence. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.