how to stop holding on

A meditation on the simplest and most painful journey of my fathers looming mortality

It’s been a long night

tears of tiredness, tension maybe grief roll from my eyes and stop…

I’m too tired for that.

My Dad died last night.

And then he rose again,

not on the third day but on the second resuscitation

“So it’s no intubation right?”

right

Careful no eye contact, don’t want there to be any warmth here where happy stories are few and broken hearts are many,

but the coffee’s weak and free, hopeful. “Maam step outside.”

Earlier: “He thinks he has pneumonia”

“No maam, it’s just the fluid on his lungs”

“He’s not right, his skin feels clammy”

“That’s probably just because it’s warm in here”

unseeing bloodstained eyes fixed on the ceiling.

“Sir can you hear me?”

________________________________________________________

Code blue in room 111

 

 

Getting my head ahead

It’s university holidays, you’re home with the kids, as nice as the possibility of sleeping in is, planning ahead for February is literally going to save your already paper thin sanity.

Every year that I go back to study, I find myself becoming increasingly time savvy.  Improving is a good thing I think, it’s evidence that not all my practice and stuff ups have been in vain.

3d9df6ef66775253b8cc7f26c6329fadFor those who don’t know me and haven’t ready the ‘about’ page, I’m a single mother of two who is half-way through the arduous trenches of a double degree. I’m loving the subject content as I am a info nut, but being a full-time parent and full-time student has its challenges and at times everybody else’s. If you are starting out on this road or are just gifted with an appetite for the sadistic, feel free to listen to the narrated car crash.

So, always keen to get things tucked away, I have done what I can, I’ve enrolled in my subjects for the year. All except one that is, I can’t decide on my minors for the life of me. Choices are:

  • Sociology – learn the science of people and how people make public policy (thrilling I know). Before I had so many choices, this was my choice
  • Photography – this is probably is my top or second top choice, I’m studying journalism, so this could come in handy.
  • French – made the list as it’s still a dream of mine to parler vous francois
  • Philosophy – I’m a classic over-thinker…  this is probably a perfect fit, or perhaps more fuel for the fire.
  • Politics – also journalism friendly.

At the end of the day it probably doesn’t matter and all choices will lead to adding fries to that order (joking) but for now this is my obsession, that and one or two other things, but we’ll leave that for another day.

So I guess my point today is that planning is MASSIVE when studying with kids. I’m now at the stage that I kind of understand what is required with all my final assignments and would recommend starting them as soon as you get them or at least make decisions on the subject that you are going to research or photograph etc.  Make sure it is something that you are personally passionate or curious about, that way you’ll be pursuing something for yourself, not just because you have a piece of paper with a question on it.

So for now it’s school holidays, I can hear my children in my bedroom talking about farting then laughing their heads off. My eldest daughter and I just finished playing one of the board games she got for Christmas and now I’m about to shower and resurrect my house from the rubble ( a task I complete about five times a day). The melodious scream of my youngest daughter comes from my bedroom, apparently there is a homicide in progress, that’s the only possible solution I’m sure.

Because my head is in the game I used the last of my grant money from last year to buy some of my books for next year, and I’ve read one (Passing, Neila Larsen) and am deep into the next one (Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck) which I am really enjoying having time to immerse myself in a real paper book (which is severely swollen from a pool incident – children have no respect). As an aside, Steinbeck is a freak of nature.

I’ve ordered d’bomb planner. One of the senior year students put me onto them when I was in first year, the passion planner is the best student diary that I’ve found yet.

I’m plotting and planning how I can get a massive whiteboard (stay tuned – insert evil laugh here), and I’m trying to get all the equipment that drove me crazy having to drive back and forth from my campus (1hr away) to get.

Although I sound busy in mind, the truth is this time is a gift. A time not to rush, to take care of my house and my kids, to go touch the ocean and luxuriously let my mind trip over my thoughts like a burbling winter stream tripping through the forest on the way to the ocean. (Ommmmnnn ;-))

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The space between…

Why do we get caught up in rushing to work, rushing our children off to school, rushing to eat, rushing to fall in love? Life really does give us reminders or opportunities to stop rushing and just let life do what it has to do.

No being but a human appears to rush, things just take the time that they take. There is a   simplicity in acceptance of that concept that makes so much sense to me. When my garden grows it just takes the time it needs. So why then do we get caught up in rushing to work, rushing our children off to school, rushing to eat, rushing to fall in love? Life really does give us reminders or opportunities to stop rushing and just let life do what it has to do. There’s that beautiful moment when you’re giving birth (I feel your resistance, just give me a sec) when you’ve just been through the worst bit (crowning) and you just have to stop everything, stop the fast breathing, don’t push, just wait and trust while you wait for the baby’s shoulders to turn so it can just slip out. (Ewww, OK sorry ;-))

I had an awful beautiful moment of watching and waiting two years ago, when my Pop, Ronald, was dying. The high-care nursing home he had been in hadn’t been moving him often enough an he developed a bedsore that he never recovered from. Day after day I sat there in the white hospital room beside him, holding his hand and playing the nostalgia station through my phone on Pandora. The cheerful curtains were competing with the smell of rotting flesh and disinfectant emitting from beneath my grandfather’s dressings. Most days the curtains came in second. I wanted to rush his pain to its end, but eventually fell into the lull that is dying. I sat and watched the people come and go, grappling with how to sort out their own emotions around death and the person who was dying.  There was a slowness, an ease and a perfection that I observed in the way that my grandfather slipped away from this place, there was nothing hurried about it.

Falling slowly in love has a beautiful quality to it. Like languishing in the flavour of a perfect meal, letting the taste linger on your taste buds so there time to notice its buttery-sweetness along with it sharp sour notes. Giving yourself the permission to take the time that it takes to get to know another person is a gift to everyone involved. Although sometimes I must admit, I just want to slam down a burger, even though I know it’s not good for me.

My ex (stay with me now) would often complain about how long it took me to answer him.  He would ask my opinion on some topic that required some thought, and before I could answer would lose it that I hadn’t answered. “I was thinking about what you asked me!” was a common utterance of mine. He would call me vague, but I always thought that if you were to take a person seriously, you would think about what to say before saying it. So, I was totally vindicated when I read this quote from Chief Luther Standing Bear.
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“Praise, flattery, exaggerated manners, and fine, high-sounding words were no part of Lakota politeness. Excessive manners were put down as insincere, and the constant talker was considered rude and thoughtless. Conversation was never begun at once, or in a hurried manner.

“No one was quick with a question, no matter how important, and no one was pressed for an answer. A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation.”

Chief Luther Sanding Bear, Oglala Sioux

No doubt I will again be employed in some role that ensures that a deadline is the bookend to my day. But, I hope we all remember to always take the time to breath, watch the clouds go past, think about it when someone asks us a question, look our children in the eyes when we smile at them and always notice the life that is moving around us, at a speed set by our consciousness of the moments it contains.