Friday, December 15, 2006

Acceptance & A Favor (republished)

[A technical problem by the company that hosts this blog for me, a subsidiary of Google, caused the loss of a portion of this post as I wrote it. I thought I had reconstructed the missing portions when it was first published but, upon review, I realize one paragraph remained unrewritten.) I have emended the post with a similar text, albeit probably not as eloquently written due to time constraints. It’s below, in italics.]

I was emotionally ravaged by my dad’s diagnosis. A few nights after meeting with Dr. Cainin, I was driving alone in my car and I spontaneously started crying and screaming. I have now a much better definition of ‘hysterical.’

I had cried before, a number of times, and I cried many times after that, but it was at that moment that I fully accepted the inevitability of my father’s terminality and the magnitude of my concomitant loss. Never in my life have my emotions been stronger or so singularly unmoderated. A profound depression ensued, spanning several weeks, during which I was at best meagerly effective at my work, and detached and unresponsive to my friends and family, with the exception of my dad. Just thinking about him during that period would induce voluminous tears. It seemed as if I would never feel happy again. I bawled at my office several times, mostly privately, but once in the company of a good friend I’ve brought into my current project.

Confronting reality hurt like hell. I did not shy from facing the truth.

But several weeks have now elapsed and with them has come acceptance. That he is going to die soon. That there will be an unfillable void in the remainder of my life. That all I will have are memories and mementos. That experiences I was hoping to share with him will be forever unrealized. I am not happy about these inevitabilities, but I can consider and reflect upon them without collapsing back into a basket case.

It is philosophically interesting to reach this state of mind. There is a bit of guilt as I wonder whether it is okay for me to feel as calmly as I do. Shouldn’t I feel more pressured, more scared, more concerned, just plain more? But there are three principal benefits of feeling like this which encourage me to foresake the guilt: 1. It allows me to once again live my life, meaning I can keep my contract with Wells Fargo and pay my bills, among other niceties; 2. I can focus my energies and attentions on my parents who need them, rather than on indulgently nursing my own hurts; and, finally 3. it affords me the opportunity to love and care for others....

I am coming to know an extraordinary person, whom to my joy, has assumed an importance to me equal to or even exceeding that of my parents.’ That is, in fact, good. That is as it should be. For I have designs to involve her greatly in my life.

The day after Christmas, Tuesday, December 26th, I am taking her for a week to Yosemite. We’re booked into Yosemite Lodge in the valley. We’ll spend our time hiking, Nordic [cross–country] skiing, and simply watching the snow fall and listening to the quiet.

I am taking my favorite person to my favorite place at my favorite time of year. Joy! (One more beautiful image here.)

My absence will leave my parents much less physical support. This naturally worries me. It took much self–consideration and extensive discussions with both my parents (they both admonished me to go) to cause me not to cancel the trip.

My mother is debilitated by her bad back. For a quarter of a century, my father was her arms and back, with my increasing supplementation for heavy items. Now he is incapable and I have shouldered a much larger portion of the burden—which I happily accept. The remaining has been shared amongst temporary help hired by my mom, and a stream of generous family friends and colleagues of my father who have come to the house. (For which my parents and I are truly grateful. Thank you.)

Which leads me to ask a favor of those of you who reside close to my parents, preferrably in Berkeley or Albany: I would like to hear from you if you are going to be in town for one or more days between 12/26/06 and 01/01/07, and could help my parents in a pinch. I want to assemble a ‘call’ list of people that my mother could ring when she needs or knows she will need physical assistance, whether with heavy groceries or helping my father to the car (an extreme example, especially given his recent condition, but not outside the realm of possibilities). I’m hoping that there will be sufficient overlap across the days and hours within each day that my parents won’t be stranded for long. Please e-mail me if you can volunteer. Thank you!

To your preference and those whom you love: Merry Christmas; Happy Channukah; Happy Kwanzaa. Or simply: Peace on Earth, good will towards men. Always.

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