Saying Hello


Just to say goodbye again.

Goodbye papa.

I love you.

I kissed his cheek.

It was surprisingly warm, and the warmth and the prickles of stubble startled tears from my eyes.

I left his room.

I had said my goodbyes.

I told him what I needed to say, I wrote him a card, I held his hand, I stroked his arm, his knees, and the tops of his feet.

If he wasn’t wearing a helmet to protect his head, I would have stroked his hair, so like mine, still so dark, the gray is in his beard.

That was new.

I have never seen my father with a beard.

It was not a full fledge beard, but it was far more hair on his face than I can ever recall having seen.

“Does anyone know what happened,” the night nurse asked.

“No,” I replied, but the nurse who I checked in with on Friday read the intake notes to me and it sounded like he was assaulted for his wallet.

There was no need to say the rest of the story, my father’s body tremors spoke the rest of the tale, the bruises and scrapes and scars, the toughened skin, the cracked toenails, the hair, too long—another thing I had not seen on my father, long hair—the swollen hands, the alcohol withdrawal was hard to watch and bear witness to, but bear I did.

“You did a fine thing, you showed up as a woman of valor and strength and whatever happens this is between you and your dad, and you deserve to go out and experience every rich and wonderful thing that life has to give you, you let yourself have those things.”

Thank you Honey.

I needed to hear those wise words.

And so many others.

My darling boyfriend.

My dearest best friend.

My mom.

My sister.

My grandmother.

The worlds all convened in one spot for me in one fulcrum of pain and sorrow and grief and joy and gratitude.

The gift of my father.

I thanked him for helping me find closure.

I don’t know if he will come out the other side of this, but I do know that I will.

Breathe and pray.

She said to me.

Breathe and pray.

And that’s really what I did.

I prayed and held his hand.

I also cried.

But have I had a really good sob?

Not yet.

I did for a moment break down when I left the ICU, said thank you to the kind nurses; I lost it for a moment there in the waiting room.

Barren but for I.

I crumpled.

My face fell.

The tears scalded my cheeks and I let loose a wail.

Then I breathed in and prayed out and asked for a little more strength.

There was no one to hold my hand through the walking out of that waiting room, but I was held nonetheless.

My eyes so blurred with tears that I could barely respond to the texts from my boyfriend, then, the elevator, the intake desk at the ER, the cab called, the wait while the crazy of a busy ER bloomed around me.

“Please, sit, really, the driver will come and call out your name,” the receptionist kindly spoke to me.

I thanked her, looked at the melee in the waiting room and withdrew to stand by the doors.

I am done with this place, this space, this ER, this ICU; I just want to go home.

Home.

San Francisco.

I met so many kind people while I was here, was helped immensely by the fellowship, welcomed and hugged, picked up and brought places, asked to read and share, drank many, many, many large cups of coffee, and cried in the safety of rooms that I knew would hold my tears and keep them safe.

I am so thankful, grateful, and in deep debt to these rooms and the amazing people I met, especially one lovely lady who really stepped up to help and be of service, may I have the graciousness within me to play that service forward.

I have thank you cards in my bag, which of course, I did not find a mailbox to mail them from, but they are there.

I bought them as well as a postcard and a refrigerator magnet at the Anchorage Museum.

I got out a little today in between the church basement and the hospital.

My new friend took me to a museum and we talked and laughed and shared our experiences and then went to a café and I had a big old green salad, oh San Francisco I do miss your lovely food, and it was so wonderful to connect with someone.

I met her just yesterday morning and she feels like an old friend.

Just one of the many gifts I am sure will come of this experience.

The gift of seeing my father and finding my way through to an adult experience to deal with the being there for my family and to also find a small space for myself to have my own experience and interaction.

My heart hurts.

I am tender.

I am wrung with tears.

“The Christmas lights are so pretty in the snow,” I texted my boyfriend.

The Christmas carols in the hallways of the hospital, the crying child, the mountains capped with white, the blue sky, the blaze of golden orange at 3:30 in the afternoon as the sun began its fast descent, the mix of cheer and pain and sorrow and joy.

The richness that is my life that I can hold more than one emotion at a time and allow space for all of them.

I am a vessel of love and I found that the depth and parameters of my heart are far bigger than I suspected.

That’s what happens.

God breaks open your heart to fill it further.

A split open heart has more room, more area, a cup, a chalice, and a field of blazing aurora borealis against the deep indigo sky, to hold love.

It’s a feeling I have not gotten used to, but it is not unfamiliar and in the feeling I know that the rendering of it will only make me love harder and more if I keep my heart field open.

That’s the best I have.

I let go.

I let God.

I surrendered.

I accept and am loved.

I was brave and will continue to honor my family, my friends, my love, myself, and most of all this wilderness that I have come through to another pivot point in my life, and that, that is the choice for me.

Life.

I choose to live.

Thank you, my father for my life.

I will live it well and full of love.

I promise.

 

 

 

In Blackwater Woods: Mary Oliver

Look, the trees

are turning

their own bodies

into pillars

 

of light,

are giving off the rich

fragrance of cinnamon

and fulfillment,

 

the long tapers

of cattails

are bursting and floating away over

the blue shoulders

 

of the ponds,

and every pond,

no matter what its

name is, is

 

nameless now.

Every year

everything

I have ever learned

 

in my lifetime

leads back to this: the fires

and the black river of loss

whose other side

 

is salvation,

whose meaning

none of us will ever know.

To live in this world

 

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

 

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it

go,

to let it go.

 

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