Tuesday, August 11, 2020

I do not fully understand

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.
                                                        Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

The digital clock blinked "3:34 am," and I got up and shuffled to the bathroom in the dark...my usual, perfunctory, middle of the night ritual. A moment or two later, task completed, I stepped out of the bathroom, and immediately paused at surprise noise - I heard music, a joyful celebration of some sort, from the back of the house, our family room. What?! There is no one home these days except Tony and I, and Tony was asleep in our bed. How to describe the sound I heard...it was brief, muted, happy...a chorus of some sort, welcoming, exuberant, delighted. I leaned around the corner to peek, to see what was going on - honestly, I was not in the least bit fearful, only curious, even, perhaps, cheerfully expectant - only to find nothing there, nothing visible, and no more sound.

I went back to bed and lay down next to Tony, in the dark, smiling to myself at my overactive imagination. Certainly, there was no one else in the house, there was no one partying. Perhaps it was a neighbor, remnants of some late night festivities? I knew whatever the noise had been, it was okay. I lay there thinking about my Dad, and I was overcome with this feeling of serenity...a sense of softness, acceptance, celebration, connection, and love for him, as he journeys towards his death. 

I've been searching for serenity these past few weeks, battling anxiety, feeling increasingly stressed and depressed about my Dad, who is under hospice care at age 91, some 500 miles away from me, living out his days in a nursing home that is on lockdown with COVID. There is no possibility of in-person visits from family or loved ones. Yes, I've been quite blue. Yet, here in the dark of night, something almost magical had transcended into the air, bringing song and cheer, and I felt calm and peaceful. I do not fully understand.

Maybe it was that good long walk I had taken? 

Yesterday, I took a long, quiet walk in an effort to relax my mind. As I was finishing up my trek, I had the strangest sense that someone was coming up behind me, right on my heels, on my left side. I was on a spacious part of the path; it made no sense that anyone would feel the need to come right up behind me like that. I looked behind me, puzzled, and, yes, you guessed it, there was no one there. Strange! It felt like someone was there, shadowing me. The sensation reminded me of my Mom, in her last years, as she suffered from acute dementia...when I would visit, she would hang very close to me. If I walked down the hall, for example, she would 'toddle' up right behind me, following me as closely as she could, tagging along, like a child. 

I lay in bed, thinking, when a whisper of radiant light trickled through the curtains at the front of my bedroom - much like the music I thought I had heard, the light was soft, embracing, and brief. My window. Light in, around, through the curtains, a kiss of light, and it passed. I lay there in absolute awe and respect. I admit to having a smidgeon of fear - I reached over to my husband, placing my hand on his thigh, to anchor myself. What was happening? The light was not some car passing by on the street, certainly not a flashlight or searchlight...it was much softer than these...diffused, yet clear and hopeful. Too solid for fireflies...certainly not anything I could identify. I do not fully understand.

This light, this song, this dark night - my little spot of courage and love. This thing called life, what a mystery, how it weaves in and out of us, through and around. We are, we live, we die, we bring our whole selves into it all. There he is, my fiercely protective, strong, determined Dad, solving the greatest problem of his existence, and he is stumped by it, trying his best to die on his terms, to finish without hoopla and fanfare, desiring to be independent, resilient. He is stuck in the earthly confines of his Parkinson's, in this home with caregivers, dependent on their helping hands, thoughts, and care, he must submit, he must rely on others...I know this is so hard for him, as it is for me, all my siblings, too...we are not in control, we never have been. 

Tony woke up, responding to the touch of my hand on him. I told him about the music and the light, the mystery of this night. He shared my sense that I had been visited, yes, visited, by something much bigger than me. I had this pervasive sense of being fully connected to and with my Dad at this time, across all these miles...this sense of certainty, really, that it doesn't matter one whit that I am not physically with him right now, I am with him always, and he is with me always.

Realizing I was wide awake and there was no drifting back to sleep, I got up and moved into the living room, to write about this experience, to capture the details while they were fresh in my mind (everything you have just read!).  

Little did I know, the night's mystery was not yet complete. 

Into my journal I wrote:

At a minimum, I believe I am getting a beautiful message of peace, acceptance, serenity, from Dad, from the surrounds, from the larger universe, this holy spirit - I am loved, I will always be loved, I will always know this loving, my loving is felt by Dad, he sends and embraces me with his, all is well, there is no separation, no distance, there just is, there just is not.

No sooner had I written these thoughts down when there was, once again,  a sense of radiant light, enveloping me, this time over my left shoulder. I have a lamp on my right side; there is no lamp or window on my left side, only a bookcase...with a wave of soft, embracing light. 

I go still.


What is this?

The light passes. 

I make the connection: this light, over my left shoulder, my Mom.

Mom, behind me on my walk, Mom supporting me during the night, letting me know, everything is well, everything is good, giving me strength. 

With that, I felt clarity and peace. I went back to bed, back to sleep; there were no more mysterious surprises. 

Something transpired that I do not fully understand, that led me to this very peaceful place. 

Dad is dying.
I am not there with him, and yet I am so present.
Attuned. Aware. Alongside.

This sense of eternal belonging, eternal connection,
we are one.

Insight from the dark, all will be well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

My little part of the nightmare

I am participating in the
 Slice of Life.  
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, 
on Tuesdays.
                                                        Thank you, Two Writing Teachers!

Today's slice is a lament.

My Dad is now under hospice care. I've written about him lots these past few years. He is 91; has been in feeble health due to Parkinson's; lives in a nursing home in Maine (near others in my family). In recent days, he has begun to decline rapidly, spending whole days in bed, not eating much or at all, and complaining of pain.

The goal is to keep him comfortable and at ease. Hospice is so beautiful at this.

I feel so much sadness. Brokenness. Stuck in this fog of uncertainty and mixed-up confusion. Should be there. Can't be there. Don't dare be there. Want to be there. Not permitted there. Hard to imagine him there.

He is dying, all alone.

This past Friday, we received word that there were now several cases of COVID in the nursing home. Not my Dad; to date, he has tested negative for COVID. However, he is being kept isolated, as is every resident, and no one, no one, no one is permitted to visit. 

My head hurts from this grievous puzzle:
To travel to see him means staying with family/friends, and putting them at risk from possible COVID picked up as I journeyed.
There's no possibility of seeing my father for two solid weeks, as the home is quarantined. 
In two weeks, it means having only brief visits with my Dad, and no real contact - though there is something called a "compassion" visit when he is perceived to be in his final days.
To travel back here, afterwards, is to put my sweet little 'pod' at risk - my toddler granddaughter, my son/daughter-in-law, who are expecting a second baby this fall.

Honestly, this is like a nightmare. This is my little part of the enormous nightmare that is happening throughout the world. 

I can still think of so much for which I am grateful.
I know it could be worse, it can always be worse.

I had a lovely Zoom call with him this past week and I look forward to another tomorrow, fingers crossed.

This sucks.

I think I need to not fight these heavy emotions I am experiencing, 
not gloss over them, 
just hurt. 
Take the quiet, the stillness, the emptiness, and hurt.

This little ditty of a poem appeared in my head, so this will be my share today:

so many "make do's"
pretend "must do's"
creative "to do's"
but nothing
absolute do
just so much grey
this day
a make myself do day
no zippety do dah
in a make myself do day
just need to accept
I'm feeling blue day