April 27, 2005

I Feel Your Pain And I Share My Own

In a month I am going to reach the one year anniversary of my blogging experience. Happy early bloggiversary to me.

As I sit here and consider what I have learned and what I have experienced I have few words that are sufficient to express my thoughts in a way that is clear and truly descriptive. There are times when words fail me and all I can do is shrug my shoulders.

But you cannot see the shrug nor the quizzical look upon my face.

So many of the blogs I have read deal with raw human emotion, pain that is indescribable. Sometimes I can feel it emanating from the page as if I am some kind of codependent. It is a virtual howl and I wonder if the wave that smacks me has completely engulfed the writer. And then again I wonder if my reaction is solely based upon my own experience, if my own background is the source. I am not always sure.

On April 17th 2004 my parents left for New Jersey to attend to the birth of their of fourth grandchild. And on April 28th my father was taken to the emergency room where he was placed on a ventilator and then admitted to the hospital.

He had a series of things happen at once and like a house of cards his body began to collapse and shut down. When my sister called to tell me to start looking into flights it was because we were not sure if he was going to live.

I made arrangements to fly out the next day, but only after I was given pseudo-assurances that he would live long enough for me to make a few arrangements at home. Foremost among them was lying to my grandparents about why I was making an unscheduled business trip across the country for an undefined amount of time.

I couldn't take a chance on upsetting them until I knew what was happening and there wasn't time to try and figure out whether to take the two other siblings that live here with me. I hopped on the plane and prayed that he wouldn't die before I got there.

As the plane landed I was on my cellphone confirming that I hadn't flown 3000 miles to escort his body home. When I heard that he was still alive I exhaled and ran to the rental car facility. As I drove through unfamiliar territory I cursed the drivers around me and made my way to the hospital.

The sky was somewhat grey and forbidding, but the reality is that it might have been blue and free of clouds, but I couldn't see it. My overactive imagination pictured me going into battle. Clad in armor and a broad sword, or wearing white trunks and a pair of 16 ounce gloves it didn't matter. I was there to rescue my father. I was going to pull him out of the burning building, I was going to kill the evil people that had locked him up in captivity, I was going to be the hero because he would do it for me.

And then I stood at his bedside and for a moment I wasn't 35, I was 5 or 6, maybe 7. It was early Saturday morning and I wanted him to wake up and play with me, but he kept snoring. Only this time the familiar snore was missing, there was no breathing noises other than that the machine made and the occasional grimace across his face.

His arms and legs were in restraints and he looked far smaller to me than I knew he must be. Even though I had long been able to look him in the eye and had been big enough to borrow his clothes for close to 18 years I had trouble seeing him as being so small. It was hard and even harder was knowing that I couldn't go into battle.

I wanted to. I was ready to fight, but I couldn't do it in the manner I wanted to. The help that I was able to give was of a different nature.

It is a year later and my father, baruch hashem is still with us. He survived the experience, he beat the odds and my doctor friends have all confessed that they really did not expect this outcome.

I have written about this numerous times because it was a profoundly disturbing experience. For a long time I waited for the other shoe to drop. There were so many little things that happened alongside the big things, so many challenges and we managed to overcome them. The truth is that I always expected to and that is in large part because of the man he is and what I have learned from him.

There are some things that happen that you just have to deal with. Life does not always have a happy outcome, but you keep going because you cannot lay down and die.

As I sit here and reflect upon the past year I am in the position of holding my breath again. My grandmother is not doing well at all, she is hanging by a thread. I could get that telephone call today, tomorrow or maybe in five years, I just do not know.

But it is hard not to tread water, it is hard not to worry and allow this to impact how I go about life. My grandparents have been married for just short of 71 years. I worry about how this will impact my grandfather.

If things go one way I could end up losing two grandparents within a short time of each other. And none of this takes into account the other grandfather who has his own health issues.

I love all my grandparents very much and know that it is a matter of time before I say goodbye. It is not a secret, I have written about it. I try not to harp on it because there is only so much that I can do. It is smarter and more productive to focus on the positive and to take advantage of the time we have and not worry about things that are out of my control.

And for the most part I have been relatively successful in doing that. I expect that part of the reason that this has been more prominent in my thoughts is for the following reasons:

1) The anniversary of my father's experience.
2)
The conversations regarding my grandmother's doctor's appointments last week and this week.
3) Pesach- It is one of my favorite holidays and I cannot have it without enjoying the memories of past seders. I cannot not think about my great grandparents and grandmother, their presence was missed but not forgotten.

But back to the initial topic. In truth I have to say that I have been very lucky, just fortunate that I have not had as much tragedy in my life as others. I thank G-d for what I have been given and am appreciative of it all. There are others who have dealt with far worse.

All that being equal is it so wrong for me to ask for some more time to share with the people I love.

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