HOW OUR BLOG BEGAN, in AUGUST 2010: As many of you know, Phil has been struggling with a very complex series of neurological issues for about 5 years. This past spring, the issues became especially intense as a result of an unexpected cognitive decline and a fall on May 15th that resulted in a head injury and further decline. And then, on July 16th things catapulted to unbelievable, as Phil suffered from a severe "electrical storm" in his brain that essentially created a status of brain death for two full days. Inexplicably, the very morning that neurologists and other medical team members were planning removal of life support, Phil began breathing on his own and his brain waves returned to a stable, while still abnormal, level. Since then, each day has been a unique journey. And while he and his body continue to demonstrate a will and capacity to live, he continues to have severe deficits and it is quite uncertain as to the path he will take. As loved ones close in can attest to, it has been tricky to keep up emotionally with all of his changes, and provide the needed support. We can only imagine the hard work Phil has gone through as his brain has taken him through such roller coaster experiences. It is our goal here to keep family and close friends apprised of Phil's ongoing story, and to build connections that honor him.

AND THEN, SEPTEMBER 11, 2010....Dad's remarkable journey alongside us culminated in a gentle, generous death.

And so, my goal here now as his daughter is simply this: to record snippets...pieces of his life that my memory offers back to me, pieces of myself as I learn to live without a dad. I hope all who meander by find life, and hope, and peace.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

a little word looms large

so, here's the post i placed friday night into  love the peppy way i talk around the utter fatigue that grief brings?  me too! 

as i wrote and edited, one thing that i thought carefully about is the phrase at the end:  "as i rebuild my spirit in the wake of my father's death..."  i considered two things:  one, am i overdoing it, to suggest that one's spirit falls in disrepair after sustaining the death process with a loved one?  nah, don't think so.  not in my case, anyway.  the second:  what does the term "wake" really mean?  and does it fit here?  so here's what i learned about the different nuances of the word (complements of

WAKE: (n) 1-a watching, for some solemn purpose; 2-a vigil by the body of a dead person before burial, often involving feasting or merrymaking; 3-the state of being awake.

seems to me there's some paradoxical stuff going on here.  one, that a solemn purpose (watching over the body of a dead person) would involve a party; and two, that the opposing concepts of "awake" and "dead" would be intertwined in the same word.  makes me think of dad's spirit: when it was all said and done, his death process likely brought to him both awakening and merrymaking. 

yes, in some odd way i think the word is a perfect fit -- and hidden within it must  be some keys to the resolving of that utter fatigue.  a little bit of fun, anyone?  ahhhh, for sure, when the proper time has passed.


Interesting.  Tonight I ran across a journal I'd started on my birthday two years ago.  Apparently, I was preparing a year in advance for the beginning of a new decade.  I love to take time every so often (usually at New Years -- my favorite holiday) to step back and take a look at the global picture of my life: what's working, what's not, what I value, what I don't.  I love to get a visual picture of what I'm hoping for, so I know what to work toward.  The end of one era and the beginning of another can be especially delightful.  So...what better time to take stock in things than a year before the "expiration date" of a great decade?!  At least that must be what I was thinking that night as I placed my thoughts on the page:

My 20's:  I created and established the adult me. 
My 30's:  I discovered and labored within my life work.
My 40's: FREEDOM and JOY ----- and lots and lots of FUN !  (I have one year to figure this out.)

Ok, so I'm now one year behind schedule.  Not bad. 

Freedom and Joy, actually, are always with me.  They define the deepest part of who I am (thanks to all that hard work in my 20's).  But -- FUN?!?  Even worse --- LOTS AND LOTS of fun?!?  What planet was I on?  What foreign substance was coursing through my veins? 

Tonight, as my eyes arrive at that simple birthday wish of two years ago, I feel the Grief Haze heavy over me: I'm reading a language I studied as a kid and I can't quite place the word.   

F - U - N ?    
"F" as in Frank, "U" as in Underwear, "N" as in Nancy?    

What exactly is it?  A person?  A place?  A thing?  A feeling?  An idea? And what does it have to do with me?  Or my future?  Did I really want it?  Think I needed it?  Deserved it?  Nothing better to do with my time?  My heart?  My life?

The calendar on the corner of my computer catches my eye.  It's Friday.  Count the weeks: October 22nd, one week.  October 15th, two weeks.  October 8th, three; October 1st, four.  September 24th, five weeks; September 17th, six; September 10, seven.  Seven weeks ago tonight, Dad had one day left to live.  Seven weeks ago tonight, my sister had just flown in from Canada and we were soaking up our father, knowing our time together was coming to a close.   Birthday wishes?  Who would want them now?  Fun?  I couldn't think of anything more frivolous if you paid me a million bucks.  Lots and lots of fun? Ok now we've entered the realm of the obcene.

Could it really have been me that night, wishing for an abundance of such an innocent, idealistic, unneccesary 3 letter word?!?  A woman all of 38 years of age?  Seems like something an eager adolescent would ask for, not some well-established, mature, enlightened adult.  Could this really be the same woman who had, for countless hours and days of each year of her life, been brave to touch and tackle so many grown-up things?  Did she really fall in love with the man of her dreams?  Figure out how to stay permanently and gloriously in love with the man of her reality?  Start, re-start, and finally finish schooling?  Start a business?  Keep a business? Nurture friendships?  Build a home?  Care for her beloved Grandfather as he died a slow and careful death?  Help her baby brothers grow to become amazing young men?  Follow the antics of five nephews, one neice, no two, no three, make that eight adorable neices and nine precious nephews; with more who are sure to join the fray?

This woman's been to the moon and back, in her own unique and marvelous way.  So why would she now, nearly two full decades after her big adult life began, want to capture something so very very small?  How did she find the place inside herself to wish for it?  From whence did that youthful energy and ambition arise? 

Actually, to tell you the truth, I can't exactly remember.  I don't remember why.  And I certainly don't remember how.  But I think I can wager a guess.  I think my yearning for that simple, three-lettered something has everything to do with being a kid again.  Because living large and all grown up isn't all there is to life.  Sure, I wouldn't want to give up my home, my work, my friends, my memories with my Grandpa, those awesome years with my brothers -- and for sure, you couldn't pry that priceless husband of mine from my heart if you tried.  But...I can only be an adult, a responsible, reasonable adult, for so many years on end before childhood comes knocking at my door once more.  I don't mind the heavy decisions and the gut wrenching sacrifices that brave adulthood brings.  In fact, I see them as a privilege and a gift.  But it's those blasted grown-up expectations of others and myself; its' those responsibilities and commitments that come because I didn't think to dig a little deeper.  Life doesn't have to be complicated.  No need for grandiose.  Just a simple soaking up of life.  To see the happy moments and linger there for just an extra moment or two. 

As I gradually rebuild my spirit in the wake of my father's death, I'm sure I'll be ready once again.  Maybe not this month, maybe not next year.  But when the proper time has passed (and surely before the next decade rolls around) my youthful ambition will return.  And then I'll be READY.  Ready for lots, and lots, of pure and simple, soul-refreshing FUN.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *

FOR MY VISITORS AND FRIENDS:  Thanks for reading my post!  So, I'd love to hear about you.  What do you feel like you've lost?  What do you hope will return?  How long do you think it might take? 

p.s. tonight is the last time i get to say "last month my dad died."  from here forward, his death becomes, increasingly, a thing of the past.  funny how even the littlest of things can require one to work at letting go...ready or not.

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