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Alzheimer's, The Long Goodbye: The First Anniversary of Larry's Passing- Lessons Learned, Healing, and New Beginnings

One of the most amazing yet unsettling things in life is the ability to let go of what you cannot change and embrace what lies ahead. 

Yesterday, April 28th, 2024, marks the one-year anniversary of Larry’s sudden passing. 

The only bright spot on that day an entire year ago was Larry’s happiness after returning home from yet another hospital stint, with Scott and Anso nearby, watching our grandson Silas toddle around the family room. Just before, we shared a kiss, which turned out to be our last.

The shock of it all still pops into my mind, though it has certainly lessened over the days and months, but as this March wound down and we moved into April, the shock had become quite common again. Soon after his passing, I realized that because he passed on a Friday, and it was April 28th, Fridays and the 28th of each month were a trigger. Thankfully, the continuation of our tradition of having our grandson spend the day on Fridays, with our daughter-in-law and older sons often staying through dinner, and, since Larry’s passing, sometimes for the entire weekend, has been heartwarming. Early on, it felt like a lifeline.

As each Friday approached, I would think, “it’s been three Fridays, twelve Fridays, six months of Fridays, and so on. Yet, around January, I realized I had stopped counting Fridays, and I no longer knew how many Fridays had come and gone.

Although I lost count of how many Fridays had passed, the 28th of each month continued to be a difficult day. In February, the 28th escaped me and I didn’t realize it until the 29th, due to it being a Leap Year. The realization dawned on me that the first anniversary of Larry’s passing would fall on a Sunday, which felt odd. To me, this realization began to signify a shift, and as I thought about where I was in life, I began feeling inspired to try new things and make long-desired changes. Occasionally, after my last client of the day, if I was hungry or felt at loose ends, I would stop on my way home for dinner and a glass of wine. While I never felt uncomfortable being alone in public, it typically would have never occurred to me to grab a quick dinner alone at a restaurant. The first time, it felt unfamiliar, but I recognized as I looked around the room that there were more women than men, which brought me a sense of comfort. Over the past six months, I’ve embraced this new routine, stopping on my way home around a dozen times. It now feels like a natural choice. 

Larry passed away in the spring while the days were getting longer so I would often return home while it was still light outside. Since his passing, in the days when I returned home after dark and forgot to leave the lights on, I felt a sense of loneliness as I pulled into the driveway, and would often pause there to reflect on the memories of our life as a family and everything we had experienced and done together over the years. Then, my mind would inevitably travel towards the decisions yet to be made, details to still be worked out, and the uncertain plans for the future. 

As autumn approached and the days grew shorter, the times I had forgotten to leave the lights on and I came home to a dark house felt very emotional. I’ve noticed in the last couple of months that as the days have once again begun to lengthen, I try to make a conscious effort to leave on the outside light and the one over the kitchen sink. Now on the days I sometimes forget, I experience only a twinge of emotion.

One evening as I was experiencing an overwhelming feeling that the house was too much to maintain, I found myself reflecting on how Larry, in the years before he passed, would grow increasingly agitated when people came to the house for service calls. Even the times when our plumber, Frank, who Larry really liked, came to the house, it was really difficult for Larry. Combined with the challenges of having work done on the house during the pandemic, I had begun to feel overwhelmed and even entertained the idea of selling the house. I was at a loss for where I would go and what home would look like. 

For the past few decades, as I’ve worked through my own emotional issues and done deep healing work, I’ve been a “nester”. My home and how I decorate it has always been my oasis. For me, the overwhelm and uncertainty of maintaining the house left me feeling insecure. 

Ultimately, I decided to keep the house, at least until Henry and Zane graduate in a couple of years. Now, I actually have time and a certain freedom of not having to worry about Larry’s emotional well-being and stressing him out by having workers in the house painting, doing repairs, and making changes. Because of this, I’ve spent the past year making some important changes- letting go of many things that no longer serve me or the family, making updates, taking on some long-overdue projects, and freshening up the spaces. I realized that naturally, without thinking about it, I’ve been referring to the house as “my house.” For me, this is another indication that things are shifting.

In many ways, it has felt like these past months have raced by. As April quickly approached, I began doing some deep reflection and soul-searching on how I would best commemorate the first anniversary of Larry’s passing.

The day Larry passed, I experienced two distinct traumas. The first was the obvious one- he was there, and then suddenly he wasn’t, and our home was shrouded in chaos and fear as everyone desperately worked to bring him back.

The second trauma came hours later, after Scott and Anso and I had traveled to Philadelphia to be with Henry and Zane. As we stepped into the hotel in the middle of the night, our hearts heavy with shock and grief, the sight of Henry and Zane standing there- looking so young, alone, and heartbroken- broke my heart all over again. Today when I think about that day, both of those moments remain equally heartbreaking.

Henry and Zane’s birthday is May 1st, and last year, just a few days after Larry passed, they turned 21. Originally, I planned to leave for Philadelphia on Saturday the 29th to celebrate with Henry, but of course that all changed when Larry passed on Friday the 28th. This year, I assumed that I would spend the day with Anso and Scott and his family for a heartfelt commemoration for Larry. However, an emotional conversation with Henry over Easter prompted a change of plans… He asked me to join him in Philadelphia for the one-year anniversary and to celebrate his 22nd birthday together. 

In a recent conversation, I let my son Anso know that I wouldn’t be home for the first anniversary of Larry’s passing, and he assured me that he, Scott, Ari and Silas would do something special for their own celebration. My heart swelled with love, knowing how much it would have meant to Larry. 

Navigating this first year without Larry, I’ve found new interests, like comedy. I discovered Leanne Morgan, Nate Bargatze, and Sebastian Maniscalco, and every day I get a laugh from at least one of them. I’ve also been attending more live entertainment and spending more time with friends.

This past year has magnified a truth that I’ve known for many years: we all have two lives, and the second one begins when we realize we only have one. As I look towards the future, I feel ready, comfortable, and excited for what’s to come.

When Larry and I first moved into the house, I created a sanctuary for us in our bedroom, decorating it with rich colors, taking into account our mutual comfort and Larry’s masculinity. In the early days following Larry’s passing, entering the room evoked a bittersweet blend of comfort and sadness for the loss of him. As time has gone on, the room just hasn’t felt like a good fit for me. I slowly began thinking about making some changes, and just this month, decided to do a complete floor-to-ceiling overhaul. At first, I struggled to make decisions about where to put things and even what I wanted the space to look like. Then, one morning, I woke up, looked around, and knew it was time. Within a week, decisions came easily and everything fell into place. Now, the bedroom is my own personal form of self-expression, symbolizing fresh, new beginnings.

I’m revamping the space with a French-inspired style that is light, bright, and airy. I’m also adding a new level of comfort by placing a sofa in the bedroom. While it seems kind of silly, one of the things I’m most excited about is this sofa and hanging a chandelier above it… It just seems so exotic. 

Exploring bedding options, picking paint colors, and choosing new furniture has been unexpectedly enjoyable. Even the evening trip to the mattress store with Anso, pillow in hand trying out all the options, was enjoyable… Who knew you could have such laughter and fun while picking out a mattress.

Although the process has been fun, it hasn’t been without its challenges. When the new mattress was delivered, a moment of chaos ensued.

It was time to say goodbye to mine and Larry’s bed, and it was hard following through with the decision to take it down. At one point, I even stopped and said I should keep the bed, despite the new bed being beautifully painted and ready to use. It was one of those moments that was painful, but I pushed through the resistance, the bed came down, the room cleared out, and I felt okay knowing that I had made the right choice. These moments of resistance are less common now, and I’ve found the strength to always push through. Whether it’s making permanent changes or defaulting to old habits, like waking in the night listening for Larry, I find that I’m better equipped to push through.

When these tough moments do arise, the emotions are less intense, and I can calm myself by acknowledging and releasing the resistance, trusting that everything will be okay.

Fortunately, I’ve been incredibly blessed in the fact that my boys and my daughter-in-law Ariella have rallied around to help and support me, whether it’s helping with household tasks, checking in with a call or text, or simply making sure I don’t feel alone. Their presence has been a source of immense comfort. In the last few weeks, I’ve found myself spending several weekends alone at home. While I love having the kids around and always look forward to more Friday dinners and weekend gatherings, I’ve also been okay with my time alone. Whether it’s sitting in the sunshine feeling grateful for beautiful spring days, tackling chores around the house, or catching up with friends, spending uninterrupted time relaxing without concern has been nice. 

I want to be abundantly clear that, despite the moments of peace and happiness, I’ve also had more than a few spontaneous tears. Just last Sunday, when I stepped into Rite Aid to get a prescription for Scott, I was unexpectedly overcome with emotion and found myself sobbing at the pharmacy counter. For years, I had picked up Larry’s prescriptions there, even getting to know the pharmacy tech, Janine. As I stood there struggling to tell her why I was there, I just couldn’t hold back the tears. Of course, Janine was very understanding and empathetic as I let my emotions come and go. After a few minutes, I gathered myself, knowing that Scott was waiting for me in the car. Then, seemingly as quickly as the wave of emotion had overcome me, I was okay again and resumed my day, talking with Scott and prioritizing the day’s tasks.

This year marks the beginning of a whole new chapter, filled with memories that are mostly happy, heartwarming, and filled with gratitude, making it much easier for me to move forward and embrace the future. Things have settled, new changes are happening, and I find myself more excited about the future.

This year has taught me that these moments of sadness, grief, and conflict are transitory. As Larry used to say, “You can’t cross the chasm in two small steps.”

There have been numerous chasms, big and small, along the way. However, what I’ve learned is that with time, patience, and self-compassion, it will all be okay.

In the immediate aftermath of losing a loved one, it can feel like the world will never be right again. But, by allowing yourself time and grace to process, reflect, and eventually accept your grief, you begin to understand that healing is possible, there is purpose in everything, and it always works out.

This past Saturday, I was on the train to Philadelphia to be with Henry for the first anniversary of Larry’s passing and Henry's 22nd birthday. I was deeply touched when he asked me to visit and stay for his birthday, and it was also a painful reminder of how last year, Larrry died just as I was preparing to leave for Philly to celebrate Henry’s 21st birthday. This year, however, Henry wanted me to be there for both occasions, marking an emotional Journey for both of us, as well as the rest of the family.

On the train, I also felt the sense that I needed to pull myself together and put my best foot forward for Henry when he picked me up at the train station.The idea of bringing Larry’s black cashmere v-neck sweater, which still smells like him, popped into my mind. Our sense of smell is our strongest emotional and physical sense, and having his sweater with me would provide a source of comfort during this emotional time. 

Additionally, I had the idea at midnight Saturday night to text the family group message with my favorite picture of Larry and the story behind it, asking the kids to consider sharing their favorite picture or sentiment of him too, as a way to celebrate him. This small gesture feels like a meaningful way to honor his memory and celebrate the love and joy he brought into our lives. 

It was heartwarming to wake up and see that some of the kids had already begun to post throughout the night, from funny stories, emotional moments, to heartfelt reflections. There was one video in particular of Larry with Silas before he was a year old, tickling and laughing. As the day went on, most of us would comment…one of the kids chose to not participate at all, and that’s okay. It was my intention to create a space to celebrate Larry to each person’s comfort level and it was a success… tonight as I reread it all, I’m sure I will revisit the thread many times over the years to come. 

When Henry picked me up at the train station Saturday, coincidentally we each felt like we had a very similar stomach virus. We shared symptoms of nausea, headache, body ache, and a general feeling of sickness… not how either of us thought the weekend would start. After making a determined effort at normalcy, it was decided we each needed to go to our respective beds and try to sleep it off. Sunday morning, we realized we were each just marginally feeling better. I had recently heard about IV remedies for hangovers, and I asked Henry if he had ever done anything like that or had friends who had. He responded with, “No, but it sounds like it has potential.” 

After a quick Google search, we found a high-end IV lounge blocks away. We quickly registered for appointments and showed up hopeful. As we each reclined in lounge chairs hooked up to customized IV cocktails designed for those who had hangovers, we joked that we only wished we needed this because we had too much fun the night before.

As the conversation inevitably focused on Larry, we laughed that on one hand, he would have made fun of us because it was so “boujee,” and on the other hand, he would have lamented that this wasn’t an option when he was a frat boy in the 60s. 

Surprisingly, within an hour, we rolled out of there feeling fully restored, and actually, I probably hadn’t been that hydrated in many moons. We spent some time strolling down the street peeking into stores, laughing about what Dad would have thought about what passes for fashion, some of the new gadgets at the Apple store, and he would have certainly commented on how he hated the disgusting smells of city streets. It was an afternoon filled largely with smiles and laughter.

Henry had made a dinner reservation at one of the most exclusive restaurants in Philly, Alpen Rose. We laughed that no one loved an exclusive place like Dad. During dinner, we looked at some of the last pictures taken of Larry, in particular the last photo of Henry and Larry together from Easter just a few weeks before he passed. It broke my heart to see Henry so sad in that moment, but it was also heartwarming to see his face light up as we talked about special times and memories.

We discussed everything from career, life, and dating for young people in 2024. I shared with Henry that Dad practically proposed on the first date, and Henry marveled that that was “old school” and he could “really see Dad do that because Dad always went after what he wanted.” 

It was heartwarming to see how Henry idolized Larry; I know a lot of young men don’t have that kind of relationship with their Dad, and the fact that Henry and his brothers did, is a testament to what a wonderful father he was. I’ve always said that Larry was a wonderful husband, but the role he was meant to play in life was “Father.”

Just this past Saturday, as I sat on the train to Philly, I became aware of the symbolism of the moment. The sky was gray and overcast, and I was feeling a sense of sadness. When I make the return trip back home on Thursday, I will be heading towards my new bedroom, which will almost be complete, and a year of firsts behind me. This trip is a definitive “before and after” of my life with Larry and it’s symbolic of my next chapter…we will see how the weather is on the train ride home.

I know that Larry will always be a special part of me. When you share a love as profound as ours, they inevitably shape who you are. While our time together has come to an end and that chapter of my life is over, who I am because of him will continue to shape my Journey into the next chapter of my life, and I am excited to see how it unfolds.

In Loving Memory of Larry DeMonaco…. The beautiful man you were and the freed spirit you are now.

If you would like to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association, an organization devoted to research, treatment, and finding a cure for this devastating disease, please visit


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