Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Sunday Feeling

I don't really have much to write about this weekend. But seeing as how that has never deterred me in the past I will soldier on. The regular readers of this space, all 6 of you, may recall, that I had planned to be in Jackson this weekend to help Laura while her husband Hugh recovers from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome in the CCU at St. Dominic over there. Well, that got cancelled when Laura sent me a text saying that she had a stomach bug. She said "Don't come." "Don't worry," I swiftly texted back.

Keeping a vigil will make you crazy. I sat with Mother pretty much every day that she was in her coma preceding her death. We humans like to feel helpful and useful at times like these. It is natural to feel that you have to be there at all times. To do otherwise is tantamount to abandonment. At least that's how it feels. But the longer certain situations drag on the more you tend to realize your irrelevance to the process.

There is a golf course across the street from the nursing home whether Mother spent her last years. About every 2-3 hours or so during my particular vigil I would go over there just to walk around and get some fresh air. Maybe watch guys tee off. I am a pretty active guy who likes being outside. I had to feel the cold wind in my face, the sun on my back. Just 15 or 20 minutes every 3 hours or so. Just to remove myself from the environment.

I once read a book called "Storms Can't Hurt The Sky-a Buddhist Approach To Divorce." While I was not in the process of getting a divorce, the book had received good reviews and it seemed interesting. Buddhism is a lot less "touchyfeely"than I had thought previously. And so the book had a lot of surprisingly useful and practical approaches to conflict and grief. My favorite observation in the book was that of the Zen approach to worry that came back to me during my final week with Mom.

It is this: "If a problem has a solution there is no need to worry. If a problem has no solution there is no USE to worry."

Mother was receiving the most competent and compassionate end-of-life care imaginable. She was in a coma. My being there at her side was not going to change the fact that she was going to die. My taking a break now and again was not going to hasten her demise. There was nothing I could do. There was no use to worry.

And life has a nasty tendency to go on regardless of how much the loved one would wish otherwise. The longer I was away from work, the more frequent came the calls from other lawyers. All of which were premised with, "God, I hate to talk about business at a time like this but..." But.

Indeed, my brother Bob who is the mama's boy in the mind of God told Mother one night "Mom, you know I love you. But I have to go see my boys."


My buddy Hugh is in the safest place he can be. He is attended to by two highly trained nurses at all times. He has stabilized. He is making incremental improvements on a daily basis. The plan now is to begin the slow process of weaning him off the respirator. This is a good thing.

I hope to get down there next Thursday and stay until Sunday. He is receiving the best care imaginable and he is getting better. There is no need to worry. Since there is absolutely nothing I can contribute to his care there is no use to worry.

But it is hard. It is hard.


Robin said...

Paul, I wish I could write like you do. Express my thoughts like you. I used to fancy myself a writer because I worked at a newspaper, but I was a sports writer - not the same thing.

Robin said...

Paul, I wish I could express my thoughts like you. You're a really good writer. I thought I was a writer because I worked for a newspaper once, but I wrote sports - doesn't count.

tmfw said...

My goodness! Thank you so much for your kind words.