Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Tangle

Because this blog is not anonymous, there's a wide, deep river of life and dialogue that is happening under the surface of these weekly reflections. There are characters and conflicts, long discussions, life lessons and grief.  There are moments of loving kindness, freedom and joy, gobs of daily, boring routine, relationships that wax and wane in their intensity.

There are anecdotes and situations that arise with no apparent meaning, which call us to question and wait in a state of unknowing. 

And I leave those interesting bits out for the sake of privacy.

Yet still I am compelled to write through the complicated issues. To capture in some inadequate manner the emotional truth of events that bind us like the jumbled string of Charlie Brown's kite.  

So far, this is a season full of sunshine and children swimming, a season of discovering new running routes and blissful bike rides on the shaded greenway, a season of  playing music and creativity, a season of fireflies and feeding carrots to the horses that live on our street, a season of back yard campfires and nights spent reading Great Expectations aloud before bedtime.  It is a season of swinging in suspended chairs and hammocks under a canopy of dogwood trees.  With all this beauty, there's another, darker shadow.  A  tangle in my heart.  The kind of tangle that appears when someone we love, who lives far away, is experiencing cancer.  

This tangle also includes the knots of life-long relationships. The patient and the family surrounding this patient   are a mass of complicated knots.  I have learned, through painful interaction, that my role is extremely limited.  This is a drama from which I must observe from the shadows of the curtains offstage.

This is a tangle which will unravel without much interaction from me, except to observe and breathe silently along.

Today I pray for healing and the shrinking of tumors between people that no one can see on a scan.

There's also this complicated knot of feeling beautifully, vibrantly alive in contrast to another person's illness.  Have you ever felt guilty about simply being healthy when someone else is suffering?  I used to feel this way when my father was fighting the cancer in his chest.

I felt guilty to be alive and well.

My dad said, "My demise is coming."  He said he wasn't afraid to die.

But I am.  And I was afraid of that moment when I would have to say goodbye to him.  It was terrible.  It was fully of messy, salty tears mixed with choking sobs and snot and guilt.  Other people were in the room, so embarrassed by my pain that they left.  I don't know if he could hear or understand me, so bloated was his face, his mouth slack jawed and open, sucking air.

It was a time when I walked around wearing a cloak of helplessness, chain mail heavy.  I didn't know if I would ever be able to take off that cloak.

Some days, I still wear it.

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