Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dear Dad

I was overjoyed to be able to talk with you this morning. You sound really good. I know you don’t think so, because you want to be that guy right before the stroke. That guy who could wake up in the morning, get of out bed, and take a shower and shave. That guy who would kiss his wife good morning, maybe give her a little pinch on the butt, and sit down to a homemade breakfast. Maybe a cafe au lait, definitely a half grapefruit, neatly sectioned and sugared.
But I was there in the early days of your recovery, when you mostly slept. You’d wake up, full of energy, speak animatedly, and get frustrated because we didn’t understand what you said. Five minutes later, you’d fall back asleep.
In the first 12 days, all you could do was move your right arm and your right leg. You’d try to get up, and I come rushing over because you had already tried to take out all the tubes and plugs that were keeping you alive. We’d clasp hands, and you’d try to lift your self into a seating position. I knew you wanted to get up. I knew you couldn’t get up. So, I figured I’d “help” you, make you feel like you were doing something for yourself. Mom scolded me for it, she was afraid I was teaching you bad habits, encouraging you to escape.
Every now and then mom would glance up from knitting, and tap my arm. I’d drag my eyes away from my computer, my work, and a smile would spread across our faces. Your left hand or foot would tap to the beat of the music in your ears, put there by your fully loaded iPod. You’d get lost in the music, and let your body go. 
I’m sorry this happened to you.
You sounded so good today. You have passion in your voice. Frustration too, because it takes you an hour to take a shower. Guilt because you’re not there to “protect mom.” Fear because you think you’ll be a burden, and because you don’t know what the future holds.
I had no idea you enjoyed reading this blog so much. When you told me you missed reading it, with yearning in your voice, I decided that from now on, I’d dedicate these entries to you. It’s been hard for me to write here since you got sick. Things continue to unfold for Dan and I at an unbelievably fast pace. I couldn’t figure out how to write about that, while you are laid up in the hospital. 
Your family love you very much!

What you don’t realize, is that even though it takes you an hour to take a shower, you’re taking a shower! That’s progress! You can’t protect mom in the way that you are accustomed to, but you have planted seeds and she is safe. You have created a beautiful home in which she is warm, safe and comfortable. You have built a nest egg that provides for your care as well as the bills. You have raised two children who love you very much, and are happy to step in where we are needed, in what ever way we can. You have meaningful relationships with friends who care deeply for you. These friends call mom to see if she needs anything. They shovel her driveway, in the early morning light, before she is even awake. 
You and I were smart, we married great people. It may have been the smartest thing we ever did. I know it’s the best decision I ever made. You are right to be scared, angry, and frustrated. You’re life as you knew it changed in a heartbeat. But, thank god, you are still here. And your wife is strong. Strong in spirit and strong beside you. She doesn’t see caring for you as a burden, she sees it as an extension of her love. A natural inclination to take care of you, just like you would do for her. In sickness and in health.
Life is different now, and we don’t know what tomorrow will bring even in the best of health. We can fret about the future, or we can fantasize about the future. You can visualize yourself being rolled into the front door of your home, or you can visualize yourself walking through, unaided. They both require the same amount of effort, but I think the latter is more fun to think about.
I have never experienced anything like what you are going through, and I can only imagine how difficult it must be. Moving here was the hardest thing I ever did. I can remember many nights, around a year ago, when I would wake up fearful about the future. Fearful about not being a contributing member of society, about my family so far away, about feeling so alone. Luckily, I married a good man, and he held my hand, and gave me the strength to get through it. 
I have also decided that this is the last time I will bring this up. If you want someone to listen, not judge, not tell you how you should be feeling, how you should be doing, I will lend an ear. I will listen. But this space is dedicated to you now, and you have always celebrated life. I think you’re religion is Mother Nature. You always found such peace within her bosom. 
My posts will be about the splendor, and amazing beauty of Kauai and the people who live here. Dan and I are grateful for our work, because it takes us to some amazing places, and we get to meet some special people. I will be your guide. I will give you something to dream about. Dan’s pictures will give you a look that only his eyes can see. We will celebrate life, in your name, and be grateful for every second of it.