I learned that there is a monster called Intracerebral Hemorrhagic Stroke.
It is possible I had hear of it in passing, but until that day, it lurked elsewhere.
It wasn’t when I went to my father’s apartmentbecause he didn’t show up to the planned picnic.
It wasn’t when I was knocking loudly on his door, or after I heard what I thought was loud snoring.
Or once the door was open and the firefighters and I discovered my father on the floor fighting to breath.
It wasn’t on the ambulance ride to Mass General Hospital, or in the waiting area of the emergency room.
It wasn’t among the myriad texts and conversationswithothers trying to find out information from me while my phonebattery was slowly dying.
But,later on in an exhausted moment,thatI learnedofthe horror of Intracerebral Hemorrhagic Stroke from a young physician who drew the short straw and was taskedwith explaining to my Sister and I, that our Father‘s life had been irrevocably changed.
However, that wasn’t the only thing I learned.
I learned that despite the irrevocable change to my Father, that there resided small graces and victories within the experience as it unfolded.
I learned of the extraordinary compassion and care that can be delivered by nurses, doctors, and staff.
I learned of the lengths and actions to which family and friends would go to support us, and my Father.
I learned that it is imperative to create a healthcare proxy and designate people to make decisions about your health if you ever end up in positionwhere you areunable to do so for yourself.
I learned that when you suffer and Intracerebral Hemorrhagic Stroke that if you can survive past 30 days, then the chances of a long hard road to recoverycouldimprove.
On August 23, 2014 I learned something new.
I learned that 29 days can seem like a lifetime, and that nothing is promised.
I learned how fast I could get to a hospital from my home. 15 minutes 20 seconds.
I learned after years of working at a hospital, what it was like to be brought to a family grief roombefore you could be brought into the room of a dying parent.
I learned that death doesn’t happen like it does in the movies, or in books, that it is actually quite anticlimactic and that sometimes it is unclear when the actual moment of death occurs.
I learned that when an attending physician asks you as a healthcare proxy, what you want to have done for your Father, that all else falls away and you are locked intheeye contact of a moment, and you need to decide hard for the life.
I learned that I could do what needed to be done for my Father, as he had done for us all his life.
I learned that when the dust settled, and the doctors and nurses cleared the bay to give us our last moments with our Father, that it wasn’t the words I love you, or that it’s okayDad, but just two words forever: Thank you!Thank you!
I learnedthat in the staged moment of death, that whatever I brought to the table intheway of preconceived notions, it all succumbed to a need to express my sincerest gratitudeto my father for so many things, and a simple thank you was all that was needed.
On June 25 2016 I learnedsomething new.
At my son’s pre-school graduation, I learnedthatAtticuswantedto be a ninja when he grows up.
OnDecember 7,2018 I learned something new.
When I was cleaning out Atticus’s first grade folder of theweeks completed work, I found a butterfly craft that had a number ofpaperfolds with a question on one side and the answer on the other. As I went around the butterfly wings I saw a familiar question. What do you want to be when you grow up? And I was certain that it was going to say ninja, but when I turned theflapover, itsimplyread:A Daddy.Ifeel nothing butthesincerest gratitude that I learned that today.
With all due respect to others that won’t admit so,
Parenting really crushesa soul.
Try as one might,
The only antidote is to temper your own expectations,
So that disbelief at the ordinary can become as sublimated as one’s ego needs to be in order to raise little versions of yourself.
Ego, must go, be gone,
Ergo: let go.
Somewhere along the line,
You realize how impossibly frustrating it must be for your partner to deal with you,
As it becomes evident that three foot versions of yourselves that share genetic material, are enough to send one to the cold slumped embrace of a worn body pillow.
Tears are friends,
Screaming into a howling wind is your best friend.
The best time is when everyone is asleep,
Unless of course, you awake to disembodied eyes an inch from your face saying in a stealthy whisper, “Daddy…Daddy…Daddy”.
Give away all your “good” furniture, and don’t warm to the idea of any type of boundary.
They find you when you poop.
They find you…when you poop!
The first few years are dedicated to just keeping em alive.
The next few are populated with a litany of negotiations, and then someday, you have strangers that look like you, hating you because you became your parents and asked them to be accountable for their behavior.
There is no experience quite like the raising of children.
Nothing so hard and fraught with uncertainty, but also nothing so deeply imbued with a sense of the possibility of imminent loss just when you hold onto it the hardest.