In grief, just as in happiness, sometimes the only thing which can be done is to write. Emotions literally bubbling up and running over have nowhere to go other than out. It is my therapy. It is my cleansing. It is my release.
I sat at my parent’s home last night and took a good, long look at my father. I can’t explain the complexity of emotions which runs through my head and heart when I am in a room with him. I feel such amazing love. I feel palpable sadness. My chest tightens some days when I think about how incredibly unfair and frustrating his condition is. It has a name. It has a definition. The only thing it is lacking is a cure. Cruel fate. Unbelievably cruel.
I talked with my mother in her kitchen last night and both of us wept. We don’t allow ourselves that gift very often in each other’s presence, but last night it all seemed too much. I told her that I had become very disheartened the other day when I took it upon myself to try to remember the last time I saw dad REALLY PRESENT with us. I have a memory of sitting in McDonalds with him, maybe 6 months ago, maybe a year- it’s all a blur- my children on the playground playing, and he and I were at a table eating burgers. He was having difficulty eating his and I cut it in two and placed one side in his hand. We talked very frankly that day. I had to know what was going on inside his head. I just asked him, “Dad, are you scared?” His answer to me was a quiet “yes”. That’s all I could take at that moment and we both started to cry. It was horrible. I was angry. How many other people in that McDonalds were having to deal with something of this magnitude? Why him? I don’t get it. I didn’t then and I still don’t today. I’m guessing I never will.
When you look at his face his features are the same. The other changes are apparent, though. He moves slowly. His eyes have become vacant and it seems he’s staring off at some far-away place. I like to think that this place is beautiful and peaceful and full of restoration and hope. I like to think that He’s looking on the face of God and finding comfort there.
His words have become impossible to follow most days, but we continue to hold conversations with him just as if he were speaking as clearly as you and I could. I know that he now lives in a world of confusion. It is a tough realization to accept, but we’re trying to take each step one by one. There’s no other way to do it and hope to keep any ounce of sanity that still remains. My mom told me that he was looking off one day and seemed especially disoriented. She looked at him and said, “Honey, you don’t have any idea who I am do you?” She said he looked right at her and said, “Honey, I don’t even know who I am.” That is the mind-numbing truth of this place we find ourselves. We remind him as often as we can that he is home and we are his children, his wife. I can’t imagine the world he wakes up to everyday and I have to tell myself that the Lord is still in control. It is not easy. I have lots of questions for the Lord. My faith has taken a bit of a beating during this portion of our lives. I still hold out for healing, but am now moving to accept things as they are today.
There are days I’d like to grab my father by the shoulders and look deep into his eyes and just ask, “Where are you?” It’s a conversation I’ll never be able to have the strength to have with him. My role now- the role of each of us- is to spend time with him, to remind him of what he needs to remember, and to continue to pray.