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Friday, May 25, 2012

Thoughts From the Hospital



                                                  Thoughts From the Hospital

  We’re late in the ninth month of what is supposed to be a 12-month cycle of intense chemotherapy for my son. He was diagnosed with a cancerous bone tumor in his leg the day before school started last August.
    Early in the process it was daily anguish. Existence felt like a “crying out for mercy”.
We have watched him wither. We have watched him bounce back a little in between the cycles of toxic intravenous infusions at the hospital. It has become progressively more difficult for him to “bounce back”.
  I was writing a lot in the beginning. I intensified what had been an informal meditation practice. I also began to read and practice other Eastern disciplines and exercises including martial arts.
  I say this wondering if the aforementioned practices have “calmed” my voice or rendered it inconsequential? Simply put … I got tired of crying. I wearied of the agony and fear. I hardened the wounded part of me and began to search for balance and strength in places I have not known before.
  Writing has been a salve for a perpetual broken heart these past few years. It is also a way for me to share experience, strength and hope with folks. I believe that I am called to do this yet feel that here must be more than pain to share.
  Last night he asked for a hug and whispered in my ear, “ I’m tired, Dad. I’m so tired.”
Pain? Is that all there is? No … as I looked in the mirror this morning I realized there was something else lingering there. It’s name is anger … smoldering, breathing … anger.
  What powers that be would allow these children to suffer so? What omnipotent, omniscient being steals youth, replaces it with pain and offers no solace?
  I asked him did he want to pray?
  “No Dad. I don’t think so.”
  What can I do to help him? He asked for wet cloths and some water. I gave him that.
Then leaning in, clasping my fist I mumbled,
  “ All I can say, Son, is maybe don’t fight so hard. Roll with it. Let go.”

 This is it, I guess. This is what I have to offer. This morning I hugged him as he lay there and whispered, “I love you.” As I walked out the door to go to work my heart was breaking.  I turned the corner; wiping my eyes when I spotted two women and a small girl who stood not much more than knee high. The women pushed her IV pole as she tottered along. Blonde fuzz covered her head where once her hair had been. She had on pink cowboy boots and an off white frock.
   I walked past but as the electronic doors opened I looked back. She gazed up at me with that curious, friendly look children have that ask, “Do you see me? Will you be my friend?”
  Transfixed by her dark, flashing brown eyes I softly burred … “ I like your boots.” She smiled as her mother asked her to say thank you. I turned for the elevators thinking, “It’s me that needs to be saying thank you.”
 
  

Monday, May 7, 2012

And the Music Plays


  It was the late 60’s; we were young and had immersed ourselves in the music and culture of a new age. Mesmerized by the steady drumbeat we could not recognize the incessant beating of our own wings as we flew too close to the sun.
  We demanded change shouting that the “church of man” was built on nothing more than hypocrisy. If we could tear it down then something new would rise up and take its place. We lamented as CSNY wailed,  “Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground.”
  What rose instead was a mindless culture of self. “If it feels good do it,” we chortled, denying the Sunday school teachings about Christ, self-control and deprivation in search of spiritual growth.
  We called it the “Age of Love,” but unlike Christ we loved ourselves more than our brothers and sisters. We confused sex with love while “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
  Today most have at least begun to breathe an air of reality that is no longer clouded by the smoke of blinding idealism. We can hear the message of our fathers. We know that as they toiled at the “machine”, they loved us. As they wearily trudged to church angry with the “hippies and protesters”, they prayed for forgiveness for us and for themselves.
  Yet we could not see them then there on their knees crying out in suffering that their children would be lost.
  Many foundered in a world without values, taking not giving, yearning for all the wrong things. So we sang with glee along with “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” not recognizing our festering pride.
 Pied Pipers of the New Age we were steeped in drugs, unable to resolve our own inner conflict. We no longer wielded the bolt cutters that had once set us free from chains of delusion. We short stepped in our shackles until it seemed as if the music had died. All that remained was the haunted echo of a dream.
  Today we stand as fathers ourselves hoping like those before us that our children can find their way. Yesterday a man came and told me that one day he had met my son. He told me that my son was beautiful and I thought he meant his chocolate flowing hair and pearly smile. 
  Then this grizzled old warrior looked me in the eye and said, “When I shook his hand, I couldn’t help but see his clear, pure spirit. It made me love him. It made me want to hug him but I didn’t want him to be uncomfortable so I walked away feeling somehow better for having shook his hand and looked him in the eye.”
  Today the music plays again.