I got to talk with my dad on the phone. Mom gets dad… there is this pause between the time she asks if I can talk to him and the time his voice comes on the phone. I realize how lucky I am to get to talk to him. I realize a bit later how lucky I am to get to talk to him again but in a different way, that he is able to listen and process information. He tells me that while he knows that he will die, that he will not conquer the world, he will go out dancing. These are new words.
He doesn’t remember about a week’s worth of living. He has no memory of the first shower we gave him. This does not surprise me. He may not be aware of how far in the pit he was or how deeply he didn’t’ make sense. He is looking for something to say other than “Listen the Wind” for the plaque that will be behind the church where his ashes will go because Anne Morrow Lindbergh said it already. I want him to say something about dancing when I go back to talk to him behind the church.
He has resolved to closing out the office. I will help. There is a Chinese painting that he has had for many years. He tells me the story that when he had it painted (if indeed he had it painted) there is a place in the painting where there is silence, solitude, a place one can go to allow themselves to feel and experience everything. This is what his office was for people, a comfortable den as he put it, for people to simply be as they are. The clocks will come home he says. There are two hundred books he says. He talks about is office at home, an office that is occupied extensively by a hospital bed, but he speaks of an office. He feels how loved he is. Cards come in, people visit, ministers have visited to help this transition. I have nothing but thanks to God, to Deborah, to whatever made it possible that he has stepped out onto the other side, a plateau where he can trust in the process. He said that he was trying to control it and that he was. But I felt helpless in conveying that message. He came about that realization through his own means. I surely know about coming to realizations through one’s own means.
Mom tells me how weak is body is. He’s dying. But saying goodbye fully, giving himself that gift, giving us that gift, presents a certain freedom, a certain joy accompanies the process. A sense of completion. I will miss him no less. But I won’t suffer at his suffering. Given how much I love him and how sensitive I am, it would be difficult not to. I was prepared to find my own peace with whatever experience there was – and perhaps I still may, since I have no idea how it will conclude, but that he got this far is a beautiful thing. So I thank God tonight, and life and the power that infuses us for that which walks hand in hand, the miracles of a shift in perception, the outcropping the gift that love is, and the opportunity that life presents us every day. And with nearly every salutation this evening, I moved in that prayer, that sense of thanks, and how great would it be that I never again, for no more than five minutes at a time, live life so trivially, that I can hold the sense of spacious opportunity that accompanies everything we are, everything we do. How to live in that all the time, that is worth finding out. What are the results of living life like that? Worth discovering.
What happens next? I don’t know. And I’m ok with that, as my dad is becoming ok with that. Its ok to read and write, to sit and think, to sleep and dream, to eat and eliminate, to simply breathe and watch and be for the time that remains, to love and to look into another’s eyes with that love. To share in this mystery that we are all undergoing, to look at each other knowing that we are all in the same place, some at different times than others. How to give people the sense that life is worth living and dying fully.