“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” — Ernest Hemingway
There are some weeks when I wait until the very end to write my “I’ve Been Thinking…” essay for The Sunday Paper. That’s because I like to have time to really reflect upon what I’ve experienced, what I’ve felt, and what has stayed with me over the past week.
There is so much coming at us these days that it is often helpful to pause, catch your breath and ask yourself, “What really mattered to me this week? What will I remember most? What was most meaningful to me, and why?”
This week, one thing that was really meaningful to me was that I got to attend the World Dementia Council Summit in London. This was a gathering of world leaders who came together to discuss what we can do to wipe out Alzheimer’s in our lifetime.
I attended the event so that I could speak about the global impact of Alzheimer’s on women. As I’ve said before, women are at an increased risk for this disease and they are also the ones who do most of the caregiving around the world. I see this as the ultimate women’s empowerment issue, and I’m glad I got to bring this important message to the global stage.
I was so inspired by all the scientists, researchers, politicians and advocates who gathered to discuss how we can better collaborate, innovate and speed up our goal of finding a treatment or a cure. I’m grateful and humbled that our work at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement was included in this important discussion and that it was recognized for its game-changing work on behalf of women.
While I was honored to be a part of this global gathering in London this week, I also know that back home our nation was mourning the loss of former President George H.W. Bush and remembering his legacy. As I flew home on Thursday, I found myself returning over and over to former President George W. Bush’s poignant speech about his father at the funeral.
What is the greatest marvel? Each day death strikes and we live as though we are immortal. ~The Mahabharata
On the morning of January 13, 2018, out of the blue, the people of Hawaii were confronted with apparent catastrophe. Every radio, television and cell phone in the state received a message that a ballistic missile was heading inbound towards the islands. People were advised to seek immediate shelter. The chilling last words of the messaged warned that “this is not a drill”.
For the next 38 minutes, facing what appeared to be a nuclear attack, people were forced to make decisions about how they would spend the last moments of their lives. Videos posted online showed people running through the streets in a panic. Twitter was inundated with tweets from people reaching out to say goodbye to those they loved. One woman wrote that she, her husband and infant child were sheltering in a closet, the husband shielding the baby. A reporter who had just dropped his son off at the airport wrote about having to decide whether to go back to the airport to be with his son, go to his wife’s place of business or head home to his two youngest children. He couldn’t possibly get to them all.
After almost 40 minutes, a second message was sent stating that it was a false alarm. There was no inbound missile. There was no nuclear war. No one would die in a conflagration of unimaginable proportions. Life would go on, at least for now.