My mother lost her 11-year battle with Alzheimer’s this past November. I was 25 when she was diagnosed and I’m now 36. It has been a long and grueling goodbye. I lost her in stages—at first it was slight changes in her personality and lots of forgetfulness, then there was anger and hallucinations, then there was the day she had no recollection that I was her son, then she stopped speaking altogether and started wearing diapers, and then finally she stopped swallowing. As I was becoming a man, she was turning into a child. When I needed my mother most—whether it was with advice on relationships or just a nurturing hug—she was not able to be there for me. This disease stole my mother away from me. But it also taught me some very important life lessons. I’m more patient, more empathetic and more independent than I otherwise would have been. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for touch, living in the here-and-now and simple pleasures. As I grieve the recent loss of my mother I feel an immense sense of relief for the end of her and my family’s suffering and I remain hopeful that we will find a cure to this dreaded disease.