Sunday, November 9, 2014

Perhaps today is a good day to die

When I posted the Blog4Peace post on November 4, I noticed that I'd blogged four times in four years, and three of them were Blog4Peace.  I also noticed that I hadn't blogged in 2013, even a little one.  And I remembered why, sort of.

In October of 2013, my father was diagnosed with cancer.  When it was found, it was in both lungs and his liver.  Considering that the man went to the doctor on a very regular basis, getting all recommended tests, taking his medication, doing what he was told, it seemed unreasonable that cancer hadn't been detected earlier.  

That is what detected at all is serendipity.  His doctor of eight years, who replaced a wonderful doctor who had moved his practice to another city, "went out of business."  With the help of friends, we found a new doctor who examined Dad and listened to his concerns.  I was there, because Dad felt he was losing his memory.  Dr. Yousefian found Dad to mentally facile and seemed confused that Dad thought he was confused.  I explained that Dad's mental ability started here (putting my hand far above our heads) and now he felt it was here (putting my hand only a little above our heads.)  Dr. Yousefian understood.

Dad had routine blood work and we set up a follow up appointment.  The blood work revealed infection somewhere, and so Dad took antibiotics.  He had a very bad reaction, and so we went back.  Dad told Dr. Y that he'd had a cough for a while (a year or so) and Dr. Y ordered an x-ray.  Then a CT-scan.  Because Dad had pneumonia, but something else too.  Cancer.  For about a year, Dad had been taking Robitussin (as suggested by his old doctor) for lung cancer.  

Dad read about lung cancer and liver cancer, although he didn't say anything to us.  Between the shock and the reaction the the antibiotics, Dad kind of slipped from us mentally.  I can't imagine how this diagnosis would feel to him.  He was a reserved man who would not share his feelings easily.  It all went inside.

And my brother and sister and I were faced with his unnamed fears and our unspoken fears.  And it was pretty hard.  For a while he couldn't sleep well and would get up, falling twice.  My sister, her husband, and daughter bore the brunt of this, since he lived with them.  My son and daughter-in-law stepped in the help during the night, but you can't really take a mental burden from anyone else.  Especially when you are carrying your own.

One day, early on, my sister called me to say that Dad wouldn't get up.  He said he was going to die.  We should all gather at his bedside.  

All the way over, I prayed.  I prayed, "Not today" and slight variations all the way from Hopkins to Forest Acres.  Not today.  I know it will be someday, but not today.

We went in Dad's room, where he was lying on the bed with an angry expression.  

Dad, you need to get up.

No I don't.

Really, Dad, you need to get up and go sit in the living room.

No I don't.

So you've decided to die today?, I asked, not tearing up.

Hell no, he said.  Indignant.

We look at him.

Then you have to get up.

He gets up.  He goes to the oncology center, where they give him fluids, test everything, say encouraging things to him in cheery firm voices.

While we are waiting for the doctor to come by, Dad looks up, kind of bemused.

I guess today isn't the day, he mumbles.

Of course not, I think but don't say out loud.  God told me it wasn't today.  

Someday.  But not today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dona Nobis Pacem 2014

If you only write one blog a year, make it the blogblast for peace on November 4.  And here we are.

Last year, a person who has been in my life a very long time said to me that blogging for peace was all well and good, but I had to know that it was a waste of time.  Over the last year, he has continued to keep me updated on all of my poor choices and misconceptions about life, until I finally decided to put him on permanent ignore.

The point of this small rant is that we don't have to fight every battle, prove every point, convince every single person that we are right.  Most of the time, it doesn't matter whether we are right or wrong.  An amazing number of things we do in the world are issues of personal choice --- what vegetables to eat, what sweater to wear, whether or not to take your vitamins.  Even whether to live or die.  But people argue about them as if they are moral imperatives.  

Then there are cultural norms disguised as moral imperatives.  Food, again.  Do you eat beef, pork, puppy?  Who cares?  (Other than the puppies... that is just wrong.)  Do you wear long dresses or pants, do you cut your hair, wear make up?  Women, too, face these issues.  Who cares?  Everyone knows you don't wear white after Labor Day, and once we can get that straight, all else is choice.

These are the things we fight about, in our homes, our neighborhoods, our churches, our nations, and our world.  These are the dumb things.  

And all of these things: land, power, what to eat, what to wear, how to pray; the need to control other people, all of these things are about fear.  Fear that I won't have enough or that someone else will have more.  Fear that I am not dressing right or that someone else looks better.  Fear that I won't be loved enough.  

I know, too simplistic.  But I have become a simplistic person.  

As a Christian, I believe that we are to love God and to love others as God loves us.  That is simple.

We have enough, let go of that piece of bread and give it to your sister.  We have enough, let go of that need to control and give it to your child.  We have enough, be your true self and let others be their true selves.  That is the moral imperative.

I can't control the monsters --- the people so controlled by fear that they hurt others.  But I can refuse to be one of the monsters.  At least for today, with God's help.