I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. – Mother Teresa
We all have those times when life can get tough and very interesting. Not necessarily in that order. Starting last Monday, life has been an experience in both. My wonderful father took a bad fall and spent a few hours on the floor. I found out about this when I came home early from work to take him to a doctor’s appointment. Upon the advice of said doctor, I took him to the emergency room.
When I was younger I used to wonder how a fall could be so serious. When you are older and not as strong or as coordinated as before, when bones are brittle, things can go downhill fast. No broken bones, but he did have a badly bruised liver. When you already have liver cancer, as he does, that can be very serious.
Very weak and shaky, Dad required critical 24-hour care for many nights, and still does to a large extent. Days and nights spent with him at the hospital, talking with doctors, nurses, social workers and such. Deciding what makes sense and what doesn’t. Keeping a loved one company, helping them eat, drink and be comfortable. I was exhausted, but having a better time than he.
After several days in the hospital, he was cleared to go to a rehab facility.
Rehabilitation. Every time I here that word I think of the catchy Amy Winehouse song. And the nurses must have thought I was a bit crazy as I sang the song under my breath. It’s the little things.
But this is physical rehab, though probably no less grueling. After being reassured that he was only going to spend a few weeks there, Dad was happy to go. And the place is the best in the state. We are so blessed – the staff at the hospital where he was first admitted worked tirelessly to get him in. He will have full physical and occupational therapy, as well as emotional. They treat the entire being, not just one aspect. He is next door to an award winning geriatric hospital.
And often times, when the emergency is over, we fall apart. And when I got home on Friday, after returning from the facility he is, I just sobbed. He is OK, is will be OK. The relief I felt was palpable.
There is no sounder sleep you will have than when you know your loved ones are safe. And for the first time in a while, I slept without worry: He is surrounded by very qualified people. He is being well looked after. He is comfortable and is actually enjoying the facility. He will get stronger there and be able to return to life as normal. But it has been hard getting to this point.
A friend of mine reminded me that when things like this happen, you have to look at it upside down. God works in mysterious ways and to truly have faith in the process. But that can be hard. That is when you just have to put on the gloves and hold on tight to the rope, because it is going to be quite a ride. And yet, still know when to let go and trust. Sounds like a paradox? It is. But we can do it if we just have faith and trust. Something I am working on every day.
I hold on tight to my faith and believe that this is a good thing. That Dad will have the physical and occupational therapy that he has needed for probably over a year (he is stubborn and refused to go). That he will have the socialization he needs with people his age. That he will have someone who will help him to understand that is is normal to be a little depressed after you loose your wife of 49 years, move in with your bossy daughter, start a new cancer treatment and face the first holidays without your partner – all things he is dealing with but has been too stubborn to admit has him down.
And then I let go of control and know that I can relax and let them take the wheel. I let go because I have faith that God has my father in His hands and is guiding every detail of Dad’s recovery. I let go because there are things that I have to tend to in my life. And I let go so I can breath and take a break. Someone else has the responsibility for the next few weeks.
Christmas and New years may be a little different this year, but we can make it work. Knowing that Dad is getting better is cause to celebrate. We went down and decorated his room. A Christmas tree is in the corner, stockings hang, a message that we love him. His favorite blanket, comfy clothes, and some pictures. We even sang some silly Christmas songs.
Yes, this is what makes life memorable. In between the trips and glamour are the every day miracles and niceties. The times spent with those loved. It is how loved you make others feel. It is truly what you give that makes you rich.
And in that giving, there is hope. How much Hope can the human heart hold? I don’t know, I’ve yet to find that limit.
The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love and of generosity and of goodness. It illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things. – Thomas S. Monson