Jessica Stokes’ “Seeking Clarity in the Labyrinth” serves as a tribute to her mother, urging readers to cherish their relationships.

By Jessica Stokes, Colorado, USA

The day I found the box of letters in my parent’s garage that my mother had written to my grandmother, I found a way into the next phase of our journey through Alzheimer’s. That was the day I found my mother’s voice. We were 8 years into it. I had watched my mother shed her skin and be re-born several times. My mom was my best friend in my 20s and 30s. And I was devastated as we kept losing her. 

When I read the letters, I heard her voice and it reframed everything for me. I was able to ‘see’ her in a new way. For who she was in each version of herself as she navigated Alzheimer’s. The bonus was I also was able to claim and see myself differently as well.

Mom’s diagnosis was early. She was sixty-four and I was thirty-seven. Now it seems as if we were both just beginning. So young. I was so frustrated and angry that I was losing my mother. My lifeline. My biggest cheerleader. Little did I know how much loss we were about to navigate. 

One of my lifelines was the labyrinth that mom and my aunt had built in my parent’s backyard in their Colorado Mountain home. This walking path became a beacon and a friend. One that would hold me in space and time when I was visiting my parents.  My visits would include cleaning out a closet or a room, walking the labyrinth, and having dinner and a movie with them. 

As I wrote my book, the labyrinth kept appearing and became a centering metaphor for our journey. When you walk a labyrinth, the paths twist upon themselves. Some days I was following my parents and at times, they were following me. In some parts of our journey, we were lost. As if in a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze but has a clear path in and a clear path out. The journey with Alzheimer’s, in life, is the same way. Inward. And outward. We just need to stay the course. 

I was much more present in the last years of our journey with Alzheimer’s. Once I had found mom’s voice, and I started writing about her and about us and about our journey, I was able to be available in a way I was not during the first half of our journey. I was able to accept and see her in new ways. I watched my dad keep loving her at each turn and I was able to match that. Loving her and seeing her. Don’t get me wrong, it sucked. All of it sucks. But I can genuinely say we loved her and accepted her until the day she died. 

Her death was a gift. It was hard and sad. But it was a beautiful moment. It was as if Alzheimer’s lifted, and she was just dying. She died in such beautiful peace. I am so grateful that I was able to see her in her beauty. 

My book is a tribute. It is a love letter. It is a legacy. And I hope it is a gift and help to those in need. 

Be present. See your people. Love your loves. 

About the author

Jessica Goldmuntz Stokes is an entrepreneur at heart. She co-owns a successful cleaning business in the Denver Metro area. She believes strongly in supporting all people on their journeys, wherever they are. Always seeking her own growth and truth, she teaches and performs belly dance, and practices Therapeutic Touch and Reiki. She is a daughter, a mom, a wife, a friend, and a caregiver. She has navigated multiple family members with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. She is an avid labyrinth-walker, a Trained Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator, and a published author. She provides Labyrinth workshops for anyone experiencing loss.

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