musings of a saint and sinner

Monday, May 15, 2006

what they don't tell you...

I just got back from my trip to see my dad. My dad who is very sick. My dad who may live for a few years...or maybe just a few months. It doesn't make sense to suggest either possibility, because my dad is such a powerful figure. He is tall and strong. He enters a room and fills it up with his presence. He is opinionated and outspoken. We've had our ups and downs, Dad and I, but right now our relationship is pretty darn good. And I can't imagine the world without him.

Now that I've returned, everyone is asking me how it went. And I can see in their expectant eyes what they want to hear, "Oh, it was lovely and wonderful and such a beautiful experience to be with my father." But that's not the truth. I don't want to tell them the truth because it hurts too much. But I hate to lie.

You know when I was growing up, I thought it would exciting and romantic to experience a Great Tragedy. You know, Wuthering Heights style. The fantastic heights and lows of emotions. The joy! The sorrow! I read all those old Gothic novels, wrote such stories myself.

But what they don't tell you about are the clammy nights when you can't sleep because you heart is pounding too fast. They don't tell you about the anxiety attacks or the sense of terror that overcomes you. The wondering whether you can lose him and survive...and the persistent fear that you might not be able to...or that if you did, the surviving would be a horrible kind of life. But above all, they don't tell you about the confusion and bewilderment. The horrible ache. The wondering inside as you ask, "What should I say? What should I do? I have NO idea!" And because of this bewilderment, you feel more alone than you have ever felt in your life. Your parents are twin pillars, holding up who you are. If one of them falls, perhaps you will always walk with a limp.

During the week while we were there, I found myself unable to pray very much. If I prayed, I thought it would mean I had to admit the horror of what I was feeling...when I was trying with all my might to push it away with both hands. When you get together with God, after all, you have to be honest, don't you? And I also had no strength to say all of the great, super-spiritual things that I figured a person of faith should say. I was utterly sapped. It only occurred to me later that God wouldn't have minded too much if I just chatted with Him about what I had seen on TV that day. He wasn't asking me to be strong...He was just asking to hold me...just as I am...even if, for survival's sake, I needed to be trivial for a while. I'm trying to talk to God just as I am now. It's still tough, but it's comforting to think that He's ok with where I am right now.

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