Monday, August 01, 2005Vigil
I think this whole "dying dad" thing is getting to me more than I thought it was. Death continues to peck at him, biting off little bits of his life without ever quite doing him in. Day before yesterday he had a stroke; that same day, apparently, his heart had to be shocked five, maybe six times to keep it beating. Whether that mean shocks from the pacemaker they put in last year or the full-on wrested-back-from-the-abyss ER-drama thing I'm not sure. I guess in essence there's not much difference.
The idea of his death doesn't bother me; this agonizing process of his dying does. It's almost as if he's in a prolonged labor, struggling across the threshold between nonexistence and existence, except in reverse. Dying can be a lot of work, I guess. And I have to wonder, even if he manages to pull through this seemingly indefeatable combination of worsening problems -- the stroke, the diabetes, the renal failure, the dying heart, the huge wound in his chest -- what will be left of him? What's the purpose of all this struggling?
An easy question for me, granted.
My task tonight is to compose a letter to his wife explaining that I won't be coming to see him, and also, as a courtesy, attempting to explain why. I've also spent the last two days trying to get my paternal aunt on the phone to tell her what's going on -- his mother, at least, must know about her son's condition, but she's mentally fragile herself and this kind of news should never be conveyed by telephone, so I'm depending on my aunt to let her know. But there's no answer there and no machine on which to leave a message. I remember when my first stepfather died, I got the job of calling his mother to tell her, too... I was about sixteen at the time.
And I'm very tired -- not physically or even mentally tired, just very emotionally tired. It occurs to me that, even though I'm not rushing to his bedside, I'm still keeping vigil in a sense, waiting for the passing not only of his life but of my relationship with him as well. Something subtly new will begin once he's gone -- namely, my final coming-to-terms with him and myself and everything between us -- so a major phase of my life is ending and another approaching. But obviously it isn't going to come painlessly. |