Sunday, April 5, 2009

"You can carry that weight with an iron will, or let the pain remain behind you"

I had given very serious thought to shutting this blog down over the last few weeks. My mind has gone dark, there has been no inspiration, nothing to say - and what little I did want to say has either been a.) not fit for public consumption, or b.) simply too private and painful to want to share.

I am stuck in a perpetual winter. Spring will not come for my father, nor for our family. I wait underground with the roots of my herbs for sun, for hope, but it won't come. There is a shift I can't quite express: a knowledge in all of us that there is an end point to all this. I can see it in my Dad's eyes, I can feel it in the mood of each family get together. We tick off the moments in measured morsels, saving up each memory for the future. I find myself willing to remember every detail of conversations, dinners, trips for ice cream - I want it to be imbedded and imprinted so that when it's all over, and he's gone, I can still see every detail.

But the reality is, over the years, it will all fade. My mother can't remember the sound of her mother's voice. My oldest son's namesake, who died 17 years ago, I find myself struggling to remember what he looked like. These are the moments where I just don't understand any of it. Or as Freddie Mercury said: 'does anybody know what we are living for?'

Lent is coming to an end. Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of Dad's diagnosis, what will go down in my history as one of the worst days of my life. One year ago, I knew my Father would not live to a ripe old age. He was so sick we weren't sure he'd live through the week. I remember going into the chapel at the hospital and praying on my knees for just one more year: I wanted one more of the holidays, of everyone's birthdays. One year, God, and I can be at peace. God gave me my year. And I can't say I'm at peace, though I'm trying. Humans are greedy. Even though we know our time on Earth is finite, we're always left wanting more. But I know Dad's living on borrowed time. I know that I will have to figure out how to say goodbye. I spend more than a few sleepless nights wondering about death and what it feels like. And now that there are no more prayers of miracles and more time left to pray, I find myself saying 'please, God, when it's his time, just let it be fast. Don't let him linger. Let him just go to sleep one night and not wake up.'

When I was a little girl, I worried about and obsessed about death. I can trace my anxiety back to a very young age, and don't ask me where it stems from - it's very much a family trait. We're just 'wired' differently. I would lie awake in dread of losing one or both of my parents, and it terrified me. I've never thought I'd be able to go on without them.

Tonight, we went to the Agape Dinner at St, Michaels'. It was a lovely blend of Passover traditions with Christian ones. We had a really wonderful meal with our children and friends, and afterwards Mother Lisa gathered the children and told them about Jesus washing his disciples feet. Each of the children got to have their feet washed, as well as wash someone else's - I found myself sobbing watching Henry wash Tyler's, and wishing my parent's were there to see how sweet a picture this was, how blessed and loved we all felt. And for just a moment, I felt what it would be like to not have them here. And while it is still terrifying to me, knowing I have this community made it seems not quite as scary. I watched Baby Mabel get her feet washed, I cradled little Hattie, and I left with the knowledge that life does go on. After Dad's gone, after I'm gone, there will still be babies born and holidays to celebrate and milestones to commemorate. We just have to believe we won't be forgotten. And if you're loved, I don't believe you will be. Even if the people who love you can't remember your face or the sound of your voice.

The Pastoral Care at St. Michael's has been absolutely amazing. Dad looks so forward to their visits each week, and he's been in a much better mood, having that to look forward to. Their work is truly a gift, and such a labor of love. I hope they all realize how much joy they've brought to my Dad.

The steroids don't seem to be helping Dad like they were, and he's getting less and less steady on his feet, and start to lean to his left side, as he did before his diagnosis. We can't do anything now but wait.

"You call roll the stone
To the top of the hill
You can carry that weight
With an iron will
You can drive those wheels
To the end of the road
You can try to deny
The weight of the load"