It’s been almost seven years since I moved my Dad to California, knowing that his cardiac disease was catching up with him. We’ve had quite a few scares since then: a small stroke that temporarily interfered with his ability to speak, a strange seizure, numerous falls and illnesses. During one of those scares, my husband was in Mexico, unreachable, and I was alone at the hospital with Dad, afraid.
I hate being alone when Dad’s life is at risk. I can handle the decisions that need to be made. I can handle the physical challenge of the long hours. I can be strong for Dad so that he is not afraid.
But I want to be able to cry and have someone to hold and comfort me when I am afraid. I just don’t want to be alone.
Yesterday my first morning thought was of all the people who are, as one friend puts it, “holding me in the light.”
In recent days, I have heard from a college friend with whom I have been out of touch in recent years. My spiritual and artistic cousin, Lynn, has become the angel who perches on my shoulder with frequent, loving messages, like this one:
Whenever I read your ardent posts as I did just now.. and look at your exquisitely poignant and palpably tender photographs.. I am reminded again and again of the Rumi stanza.. that I am sure you are familiar with but I can’t help writing:“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” –Rumi
Mostly, I want you to know this New Year’s eve that even though it may seem I am in the background I am a part of that large net beneath the high wire you are walking– where by the way, you are dazzling in your diamond light. I am not quite breathing with you, but almost…
My dear friend, Lisa, who spent the day on the 18th hanging out with me and cooking for me, is in Italy with her family where she is lighting a candle in every church she encounters. When traveling, Lisa normally devotes her laser-like focus to something food-related, like tasting lentil soup in Turkey, but on this trip, she says she is thinking of Dad and me. She wrote:
It is making me feel slightly better — but marginally so — wish I could be with you to help you through this important time. Your dad is a great man, and you are the best daughter and friend anyone could hope for. Miss you.
Yesterday I wrote my oldest friend, Ellen, about how she had rescued me when we met as lonely adolescents. She wrote back:
I have loved walking this current path with you. I have felt your sadness and pain. I have cried with you. I have wondered, and asked, and railed with you. I have grown with you. I have deepened and broadened who I am with you. I want to be there with you, but also know that you would be caring for me, and worrying about me, while at the same time you are caring and worrying about everyone else in your life. It’s your nature.
This is a hard path. But it’s far harder on Dad as he struggles. The love and support of family and friends makes all the difference. It holds me up so I can hold him up.