My father, love, and the end of my anger.
I know many of you have been following my posts on the upcoming Virginia House of Delegates races. I am aware many of you have noticed that I have gone silent over the past 3 weeks or so on these races. I wish I could say I was taking a much-deserved break from the daily work needed to produce the district profiles I have done and kept them updated. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
A little more than a year ago my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, he has been in the care of hospice for the last few months. Two Thursdays ago hospice advised the family gather as they figured he only had a day or two left. I immediately flew back to Columbus to be with my family even though I really don’t have the funds to do it. Nothing is more important than family in these circumstances.
Two and a half weeks later I can report to everyone that my father is still with us. It was a bit of a blessing for me as I got to spend a great deal of time with him with all of his filters down. I have gotten to see the depth of his love for my mother, and the reverse is true. My mom has been challenged with mental health issues all of her adult life, at least the span of my aware life, and the family often questioned her feelings for dad as a result. It was always hard to tell.
There is no doubt in my mind or heart now after witnessing some of the most tender moments I have ever seen my parents have together.
It has also been a bit of a curse. For the last 5 days my father is still with us, but he really is no longer there. This has been the hardest on my mother. She spends her days wishing he would just wake up even though she knows he won’t. It is heartbreaking to see the fear and sadness in her heart. I have been unable to provide comfort for her adequately I fear. I do sit vigil over him with her every day, I do sleep on the floor next to his bed so I can keep track of his comfort and well-being (as little as there is given the circumstances) and also alert mom of any changes in the night.
It has been a taxing and emotional few weeks. Weeks that I would not have any other way given the circumstances. As noted above, I have been able to see dad’s unfiltered emotions toward me, the depth of his concern, joy, and love for me and my brothers in general. I have gained an insight to the passion and depth of his love for my mother, which was always sort of in question. I mean we all assumed it was there, but, it was not really always all that evident to us, unfortunately.
Just one instance to highlight. This was during my first week back after the call from hospice, dad was relatively alert still. He would enter periods of agitation, he would sleep a bit, but he would also have long stretches of lucid periods as well. The only thing is he did not have enough strength to lift himself out of bed and to even roll over on his side has an intensely painful experience for him.
I had been there long enough that my senses were just sort of tuned into him in his bed. I was not really paying much attention to the TV, or my mom even. I was sort of lost in thought, just paying attention to what was going on with him. I suddenly noticed him roll fully on his side, I look over to see what was happening and he had a hold of the bed rail his eyes fixed with laser-like intensity on where my mother was sitting. The pain must have been excruciating for him, but there was no sign of pain in him, he was only radiating an intense concern I can not really adequately find the words to properly express.
My mother had been drinking a glass of water and must have sent some of it down the wrong pipe as she was having immense difficulty breathing. I immediately jump up and make sure she was alright, she was, although I was about 5 seconds away from calling 911 for a moment there. Once dad could relax about my mom’s condition, well the pain set in on him in waves. I gave him his breakthrough medicine and stayed with him holding his hand for quite some time to get him through that episode.
That moment will be etched into my memory for the rest of my life. As will so many other moments from these last few weeks taking care of my father, and mother in this difficult situation. I am not sure why I shared such detail here, I am certain at least one of my brothers might be upset that I have shared this in fact, but it was a moment I witnessed, it has had a profound impact on me, and I believe in sharing the stories that impact each of our lives together on this planet.
I am sure all of us have similar moments scattered throughout their lives where uncertainties become certainties, where love is revealed at its core even through intensely painful circumstances.
We are all one mass of humanity, we all will experience this sort of pain and loss and some point in our lives. If only we could find some common strength in the love that experiencing this pain often reveals in our lives, if we could only understand the pain and fear even the prospect of loneliness and isolation most of us experience when confronted with such inevitable loss in our life. We are not alone, we must remember that. We must reach out with compassion and understanding to those around us. Our friends, sure, our family as well, but also to the stranger, and yes, even to those we do not necessarily get along with.
We should share our love and understanding with all that we can. We do not know the pain in their life. That man at the counter being rude might be at his wit's end caring for a dying parent. You do not know the pain he may be feeling at that moment, but you do or will know the pain of that sort of impending loss someday yourself and you will appreciate the grace others show you even at your weakest. It is as much a part of life as birth, it is part of our shared experience as humans.
Life is too short and too precious to be spent in anger at those who disagree with our ideologies. My father’s politics and mine could not have been further apart on most issues. We had our fights over it, we even wasted time on senseless anger over it. No more. I will not waste another minute of my life being angry over political disagreements. I will fight hard for what I believe in, but I will not and cannot waste my precious time on this earth in anger, even with my political foes.
Love, compassion and heart will be my driving force. Accomplishing my goals, moving our agenda forward will be the focus. There is no need for the senseless anger. I will work to greet the world with love.