Tuesday, February 9, 2010

memoirs on the passing life

Entry #2: The Long 3 Months

For 3 months my grandfather, Papa as we called him, fought for (or clung to) life. During that time, I wasn't around much; I stayed connected through 2nd hand information. But I really just kept waiting. Honestly, I was surprised he lived for so long. My memory of him in that hospital was burned as one where he seemed miserable, not really living. (Yet, in the past couple of days I've been taught/re-thought what it means to be living; the mind and spirit can be very alive while the body, what we measure "living" by, continually withers away.)

Living 5 hours away keeps the reality at bay. I knew he was sick; I asked for updates. But I wasn't present, and in many ways, I didn't want to be. Papa and I weren't close before, why would it matter now? That isn't fully true, that it didn't matter, but it's what ran through my head a lot of days. My family-my caring, dedicated family-was present the whole time. They tirelessly made daily visits to the hospital, and later, the nursing home. Mrs. Libby, my "adopted" grandmother," made soup and brought diet coke and read her book by his bedside.

Still he clung.

During this time, and looking back, I didn't desire to visit or to be close to the situation. This isn't my nature, to turn away from closeness, to choose to be emotionally uninvolved. In fact, it's quite the opposite of my personality. But this was quite different; it brought out something in me I've not seen before. I thought, why be connected to him then, when he's dying? And besides, we'd never had many conversations that didn't end in his telling me he wish I'd done something his way instead of mine, more or less.

So that's the waiting. Not much happened healthwise during this time, except for ups and downs in his condition, amidst the continual "down" (he would never be able to live at home again, never be free from the care of medical personnel). And I guess I waited for him to die. I didn't want him to die, yet I wanted him to be free from his misery.

Next time I'll carefully (as to not offend or disclose anything too personal) tell you what I've learned from watching my dad and aunt, his children, go through the death of their dad. It's quite different from my experience, yet it's taught me much.

Thanks for reading; may you think through your own grief, past or present, in losing those you love, and know God's grace in a very real way.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

memoirs on the passing life

Entry #1, here goes something...

He had a stroke in early November, exactly 3 months before he was buried.

Hearing he was sick didn't bring to surface many emotions, initially, until I came home to visit and the serious tone in my mother's voice called out to my tears.

And seeing him in the hospital bed was even worse. How could this man, known more than most things (to me, anyway) for being a opinionated, controlling, and a bit bossy, be lying in this bed so completely vulnerable and unable to speak clearly? It's a question many ask as they watch the once strong and healthy lie in a bed, now described as sickly and immobile. And it's a disheartening sight.

But I think it was particularly difficult for me because he had never let himself be vulnerable before me, never really needed my help, my hand. But now? It was his very sustenance, the help of someone else. Completely dependent on the grace of God and the love of Family and strangers. And for 5 hours that day, I sat with him, mostly wordlessly, and tried my best to discern his needs. Do you want an ice chip? Do you want a cold washcloth on your forehead? Do you want me to just stand here and hold your hand and watch the football game with you? All of the above.

It was a meaningful day for us, to be able to care for him for the first time in my life. Odd, isn't it, how too many of us only become vulnerable when we're forced into it? That we wait until the end of life to let ourselves need someone else? I left that hospital thankful - thankful for the chance to be needed by him, for some sort of reconciliation to take place, thougth not by any means fully completed.

I drove home listening to Sara Groves' new album, "Fireflies and Songs" and crying because in some way, I'd just experienced feelings similar to what she felt when she wrote down these words:

"It took me by surprise, this old house and these old feelings
walked 'round and looked inside, familiar walls and halls and ceilings...
sad, fruitful, broken, true."
[This House]

Grace and peace be ours, those who know full well that sadness and Italicreconciliation and brokenness and hurt can all co-exist, who hold it in our hands wondering what to do next...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the newest housemate

many of you know... we like housemates. :)

and so we have a new one, whose things are being put in order as we speak. He won't officially be sleeping here until the weekend, but his coming is evidenced by multiple ottomans/storage units, new pictures for the walls, and an impressive DVD collection... (and I mean impressive...) We're so excited to share our home with Ty, "our" meaning, all 3 of ours. It'll truly be our home, since he's bringing a lot to the family - a fantastic couch, new TV, and other items placed throughout the house. And that's what we want... things to share. :)

So, I bid you good night on this Wednesday evening, as I listen to the Wailin' Jennys, the sound of cake-making (Jeff winning over his co-workers), and the arranging of items in the room next door. Life is truly a gift... thank you, Jesus.