Friday, August 21, 2009

It Comes in Threes

When I woke up this morning I was focused on my plan to visit Princeton today, distracted only by the ache in my heart from missing my father and the sense of dread in anticipation of my next encounter with my brother. I got my mother into the car and went to my uncle's house to pick him up as he wanted to come along for the ride. When we got there, he informed us that my great aunt Lucy had died. My mother went right into the bedroom to see how my grandmother was doing after having just lost her sister only two months after losing her eldest son, my father. I sat in the living room with my uncle, wondering what it all means. Why did we lose three close family members inside of a year, two of them to cancer? What are we supposed to learn from this? I realize that death is inevitable, but I feel strongly that there is something to be learned, whether it's how we can take better care of ourselves or some greater message from the universe.

On the way to Princeton, I felt some relief in knowing that I was fulfilling one of my father's last dreams. From his death bed he told me that he wanted to go to Princeton, walk around, and have lunch. So that's what we did. It was the first major thing that I've done for myself since I left Columbia. Almost all of my time has been spent handling my father's affairs and caring for my mother. I had always told them that I would be here for them. And here I am. I am proud of that.

Now, though, I think it's time to start shifting some of the focus back on myself. My best friend is getting married next month, and I want to be there for that. I should be there. I want to get things settled here to some degree before I make that trip, though. I also need to get myself more firmly on the track toward grad school. There's so much to do. All I can do is take it day by day, though, and hope that more days are productive than not. Wish me luck...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

After the Storm

My inner child is slowly shuffling along, staring at her feet, kicking the dirt as she walks. Her dusty cheeks are marked with trails from the tears that have been streaming down her face. She gave up screaming out for her daddy weeks ago. He never answered.

It has been a month since my father passed, and while it is getting easier, my heart is still broken. It is still so hard to comprehend that I will never talk to him again, at least not in this life. The only message I have received from him since he passed came in the form of a dream. He was standing in my mother's hospital room. He looked healthier and happier than I have ever seen him. He handed me a letter in which he told me that he loved me.

I have sent him countless messages. He is ever on my mind. Even as I turn over in my bed in the middle of the night, I think of him and tell him that I love him and miss him. Every night when I close his bedroom door I say, "I love you, Daddy".

After he passed, I felt as though I was looking for him everywhere, desperate for some communication from him. In my heart I know that he lives on within me. I already know how he would answer any question that I might ask him. He taught me every lesson that he could. His job was done.

I take comfort in knowing that he did everything that he wanted to do in this life. My focus is now on my mother, making sure that she is financially secure and that she is both mentally and physically healthy. She's doing so much better than I could have ever anticipated. I thought that if my father were to die, she would die right along with him. She's so much stronger than she used to be.

For now, my inner child will continue to shuffle along. She is still so very sad, but someday something will catch her attention. She will be drawn away from the sadness and she will play again...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Storm

I felt like I just barely made it through finals and graduation when my father was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He was there for about a week, while I was stuck in New York packing my apartment. He was diagnosed with cancer (Multiple Myeloma). He got out of the hospital and was home a few days when my mother fell. She had worried herself into a frenzy. Then, in the middle of the night, my father called for me. He needed the ambulance again. I thought the dark was scary when I was young, especially after all the horror movies my mother let me watch, but this was a different kind of scary. It was much worse. After a few hours in the ER, my father was admitted to the ICU. A day later my mother fell again, and I called the ambulance once more. The EMTs picked her up off the floor and put her in bed. The next day, the doctor determined that she fractured her hip. So I called the ambulance again to have her transported to the hospital. It seemed almost impossible for both of my parents to need to be in the hospital at the same time, but there they were, one on the third floor and the other on the second.

Since my father was admitted, he has had two surgeries to correct a bleeding ulcer which was probably caused by medication. It looks like he's headed for another surgery. And now there is a fever to complicate things. My mother had one surgery, to correct the fractured hip. She was transported to rehab today, but my father is still in the ICU. And I have a sore throat, so I can't visit. I've been staying at their house, waiting and answering calls from neighbors and family members who are all worried and wondering what's going on.

At this point, I'm not worried about my mom. She's out of the woods, as far as I'm concerned. My father, however, is still very much in the woods. I speak to the nurse every day. Today she told me that my father is very sick and very uncomfortable. He's nauseated from losing blood, again, and he's shivering from the cooling blankets they have on him for the fever.

There's nothing that I can do for them. I sit here in the living room, watching movies hoping that they'll ease my mind even if only for a moment. My heart jumps every time the phone rings. It's difficult to fall asleep knowing that the phone might ring with potentially bad news. And I am so sad because my father is so uncomfortable. I'm trying to take care of myself, but it's not easy. My every thought is with my parents right now, especially my dad.

He said something to me the other day that made me realize just how close to the end he might be. He said that he just wants to live long enough to see me get into Princeton. Just a few weeks ago, his end seemed so far off. Now it seems like it's creeping up on us faster and faster with each passing day. The family doctor assures us that everything is under control and that he'll be fine, but I am doubtful. And I am mad at myself for being doubtful, because I believe that being optimistic sends positive energy out into the universe, and being doubtful does the opposite.

So, as I sit here in front of my father's big screen television, affectionately known as my baby brother, I will try to focus on the positive and pray for my father's discomfort to pass and for him to make it out of the woods and home safely as quickly as possible.