The Importance of Being Here and Now

Jo
For my trip to my brother's Memorial Service and to support my sister-in-law, niece and nephew, I had packed several sets of casual but nice clothes plus a dark blue suit and tie combo for the actual Service. I had made sure everything was clean, pressed, packed in my garment bag and staged in my bedroom the night before departure... where they remain.

Yup, traveled all the way to the airport and was standing in line to check-in when I realized I was missing something. It was too late of course to run back home or even to have someone swing by and retrieve the bag for me. I never thought of just having it shipped the next day FEDEX or UPS.  All I could think of was, "How could I be so stupid?" Followed closely by, "Wahoo, I'm going shopping!"

What was such a distraction? The obvious of course: my brother's death; my sister-in-law; niece and nephew; my childrens' welfare in my absence and my parents. Especially my parents.

My Dad had a Dr's appointment the afternoon before my departure. I had made the appointment to see why Dad was experiencing swelling in his limbs and occasionally over his entire body. I didn't expect the issue to be serious but wasn't taking any chances either.

The Dr used the phrase, "heart failure." In fact he kept saying it over and over again in case I missed the point. To be fair what he actually said was, "initial stages of heart failure." Dad was not in an acute emergency, no rush to the ER, no fluid in his lungs. Only an early diagnosis with much testing to be done and experts to be consulted with. I do have to follow up with a cardiologist quickly upon my return and this Dr wants to see Dad again within the week. But still....

I had trouble focusing after the words "heart failure." What does that mean in a 90-year-old man? Dad has seen the cardiologist once already in the past year. I already know the options are limited.

On top of that I can't bring this up with any other family members, not this weekend. The focus needs to remain on my brother's family.
I read recently of the experience of a chaplain who worked in the hospice/palliative care section of a hospital and who struggled with what do you offer to people who know they are dying and have nothing particularly to draw hope from. This chaplain's conclusion was rather than try to fix and solve, the most and best he could do was to offer his presence. The patients almost always responded positively just to having someone around.  No solutions or right words necessary.

I've observed similar in my visits with my parents who rarely anymore know who I am but ALWAYS light up when I enter the room. They just like me hanging around. This weekend with my grieving family I am again practicing presence.

There is so much going on right now in my life that I can't solve or make better. If I look too far into the future it gets bleak and dark. Instead I have to be here and now with those that I love and who need me.

Next week's crisis can wait until next week.

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