Thursday, October 15, 2009
I remember so very clearly, exactly what I was up to two years ago today. I had been ripped from my bed at three in the morning and stumbled for the phone. "The ambulance is on the way," is all I heard before I jumped in to some clothes and ran out the door.
Mom waited at the bottom of the stairs while dad was in the bed. The ambulance pulled in to the driveway and I heard bits of how my dad had fallen back in to bed, too weak to stand. There were details exchanged about his cancer, before he was brought down the stairs strapped in to a chair and later transfered to a stretcher. Mom grabbed her purse and I was to follow in the car. I gathered, shoes, books, clothes and off I went.
I distinctly remember having conversations with god on the way down, frantic that it could not possibly be time yet, he had to survive. I was calmed by the knowing that just the day before we had sung in the choir together. And that the day before that he had played 18 holes of golf and eaten a steak dinner. Clearly, these were not the actions of a man about to succumb to this disease.
The emergency waiting room was empty at this hour except for my mom who waited beside me. We made the kind of small talk that is meant to take your mind off the seriousness of the situation before you. Mom talked a bit about dad's night and the events that had landed us there, all with a short of he'll be fine urgency to it. Another person entered, giving us a distraction for the few moments before a nurse appeared. We were invited back to see dad, laying pale in the bed, with IV's and machines attached. "You should not be seeing me like this," were the first words out of his mouth.
"It's all good dad," is what I could muster. They were giving him a blood transfusion, as his counts were dangerously low. There was a certain sigh of relief as this is what mom had considered needed to happen all along, a strange normalness to getting blood, it alway perked him up.
Mom and I left to find coffee and consider if it was with in the realm of normal, considering our unusual setting, to call my siblings and alert them to the situation. We did wake them, and explain what was up, while sipping an unusually enormous cup of coffee.
Dad continued to receive blood, I secretly watched the blood pressure monitor for signs of improvement or maybe it was really a sign of hope I was looking for. The jokes returned and there was the a hint of relief in each of our voices. Dad's coping mechanism was humor and when it disappeared we held our breath in wait.
Dad ushered us out to feed ourselves and encouraged me to find a new pair of running shoes. He assured me the cost did not matter, if I needed the dang shoes I should get the dang shoes. So we left mom and I, in our sleep deprived over caffienated state, to find food. We ended up at White Spot and ate marginally good food before wandering mindlessly through shoe stores. I hadn't the attention for this kind of purchase.
There were more phone calls, assurances that all would be fine and likely there was no need for anyone to drop what they were doing and head over.
There was blood in the stool and a decision to keep dad in to monitor his condition when we returned. His spirits were better now, with more blood in him. A call came in from his grandsons exclaiming that they won a free game of mini golf. (Puck had stepped in to take Mitch to mini golf, when Gramps was unavailable). Dad perked right up, with a smile and chuckle as they made plans to hit the course together as soon as he got out.
Dad was being admitted to the third floor for observations. His vitals had returned to normal. Dad ushered us out again, to go and eat. He would meet us on the third floor. Even from his hospital bed he still commanded an authority that held his position as head of the family.
Mom and I did as ordered, headed out again, roaming fatigued in search of food. We were doing a good job of cracking jokes and keeping the mood light. Lisa had agreed to come over from the mainland. I touched base with Puck and the boys, they would come and pick me up, and bring a few things along for Gramps. We ate.
We returned to the third floor and were told what room to visit. We couldn't get in to the room though, someone was having a rough time in there. We heard moaning, a large number of nurses rushed in and out. Mom looked at me and said, "I am pretty sure those are dad's slippers" in behind the curtain with all the commotion. The head nurse rushed by, looked at us, "are you here from Rick Week?"
"Things have taken a turn for the worse," was all she said before heading to where ever she was going in such a rush.
Mom and I stood awestruck in the hallway. We didn't even know that was an option. Or what that meant. Or why everyone was in such a rush.
I had to leave to get Lisa from the plane. Mom hugged me, "I am scared this is it." This is what, he's fine, a little blood perked him up, what the hell else could have happened between the emergency room and the third floor and where the hell was the doctor. To this point, 12 hours later, we still had not seen a doctor.
Lisa was there waiting for me. She took one look at and reached in to her bag for some clothes. I guess I looked a little worse for wear. I had no clue and had just been wandering the malls of Nanaimo looking less then presentable. We went straight back to the hospital.
Mom was there. She had seen dad, who was distraught. He apologized for disappointing her. We knew 6 more bags of blood had been ordered. There was something about him bleeding. The nurses spoke to us in way that would indicate we knew more then we actually did.
"We are moving Mr. Weeks to a private room, so family can come up," we over hear. Even though the signs are there, none of us are quite ready to admit what we know is happening.
Time passes in an unidentifiable way. We walk. We pace. We return to the door of the room again and again. Mom has been in and out. An image remains in my mind, of the janitor, we routinely bump in to, with a red stained mop, my mind madly wonders what is really happening in that room.
Dad is moved. Lisa and I stand at the edge of the room, peering in, our eyes find his. Lisa tries, "hi dad." His response is brisk and tells us essentially to get the hell out of there. By now we have been told we can use a near by room. Again, evidence that the outcome is not going to be good. Still we remain in this place that is less the tangible it is surreal, detached from reality. Mom is permitted in again.
Lisa and I discuss food, should we get some, would we get some, where, how. It is decided she will go for food. I return to the door. Dad is wanting for me. Mom, steps aside and gives us a moment.
I am warmed from top to bottom with compassion. I know as clear as day, that this is it. I know if there is anything left unsaid, now is my time to say it. This is where my deepest gratitude begins to grow. There is nothing left to say but, "I love you and thank you." My dad tells me of his love for me, and just how much he loves my little boys. I tell him to rest, it is okay, he can go. We hold hands.
There is a gasp, dad looks at me with a strained expression, "please take care of your mother." His eyes are open, his breath labored.
"I'll get mom."
She rushes in and I call Lisa, on the phone to get her back. I am desperate, frantic, the phones don't have enough charge as we have been on them all day. I dash to the parking lot, its way too late, time left me.
I return to the room, mom is sobbing. I step in and grab dad's hand again and I sing. This is a moment that is his. A time when we can help him leave peacefully. Oddly, there is not sadness. There is gratitude, deep deep gratitude for even having the chance to know this man.
Time moves on, Lisa returns and we all bask in our gratitude as dad slips away. It is here that I learn there is a likeness to birth and death.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Just this past week, I reached a life goal, of being in the presence of his holiness the Dalia Lama. Long ago, I had well, given up on this goal, thinking the chances of someone on my path having that opportunity was rather unlikely. One day this past summer, Puck said to me, "hey the Dalia Lama is going to be in Vancouver, we should get you there." I briefly looked in to it and again decided it just wasn't going to work. However, it clearly was meant to happen, as the event came on to my radar again, and this time I followed threw and bought a ticket.
The panel discussions I attended, were a part of the Vancouver Peace Summit and the conversation topic was Educating the Heart. I must admit it took me sometime to get over the fact, that the real live Dalai Lama was sitting on the stage. Once I did, and I heard what was being said by the brilliant minds before me, other things crept in to my knowing.
Most of this is rather random in order and some what mirrors the mind whirling that actually took place for me in this 2.5 hours where I sat at the edge of my seat!
First off, the only obstacle in the way of me meeting my life goal had been me. Now, I see life through revised eyes and have taken a look at the other goals I have placed in the "can't" or "won't happen this time around" pile. It is like a reawakening, a reminder that heck, I can do and experience each of the treasures I want to in my lifetime.
I was most impressed by the Dalai Lama's humanness. His ability to laugh, shrug, listen and answer. There was nothing elitist or condescending about a single world out of his mouth. He used the line, "I don't know," more then once, which to me takes great courage and self knowing. He recognized that in his time here, he could not know all and was willing to share what he knew with those coming up, as he was heading out (in a life and age kind of way). I actually would extend this to most of the members on the panel. There was an essence that this was an on going conversation, a sharing of ideas with no one idea holding power over another, it was refreshing.
Another spark that was ignited with in me, was the one, where compassion become both an intention and an everyday act. This reminder has created a space in my life where acts of compassion can exists and where I can witness them in others. The energy in my own home has settled a little. I have seen my boys differently as they embrace the possibility in each moment. I suspect this existed long before I attended this talk however, I wasn't actually seeing it.
And a final thought, before this becomes too long. The idea that true creativity is often present in the face of adversity when moving forward is only possible where out of the box thinking exists, transcended me to a place where I am willing to kick off the covers of comfort I have so willingly existed under. I am looking to push my own bounds to step closer to the dreams that have lay dormant with in for reason that quite likely never were my own.