Monday, October 22, 2012

Second Chances

My dad and I

Can I write candidly about this without completely hurting someone's feelings?  The heart can be a very delicate organ at times like these.  I am not sure that I can but I will try to anyway.  It is, after all, as much of a part of my story as anyone else's.  As I sat there staring down at the hands that had just held my father's temporarily non-beating heart, all I could think about was second chances.  Second..thump-thump..chances.  Second..thump-thump..chances.  Second..thump-thump..chances.  The heart surgeon's words were little more than rubbery sounding background noises as my own heart beat wildly against the words "second chances" and my eyes focused on those hands.  Something tells me that I could pick that doctor out of a lineup based solely upon the appearance of his long, lean fingers.  His gold wedding band slightly embedded in the skin of his ring finger, his short well-manicured nails.  But his face, probably not his face.  I was not paying any attention to his face or even his words, for that matter.  It was his hands that captured my full attention and all I was capable of doing in that moment was memorizing them, not necessarily on purpose, but because they had held something that I was born out of, something that has held me since the moment I was even considered.  My father's heart newly quadruply bypassed and cleared of as much plaque as humanly possible and then placed gingerly back inside of his chest to hopefully, prayerfully beat for another day.  Second chances.

Almost two weeks ago, my dad suffered a "minor" heart attack.  A heart attack, ironically, that ended up saving his life because when the doctors performed an angiogram they discovered that my father needed to have quadruple bypass surgery in order for his heart to continue pumping.  At first, I was numb, and then I was scared to death that I might lose him but finally, I prayed.  I pleaded, I bargained, I rationalized, I cajoled, I bartered until finally, something quieted the voice inside of my busy, whirling mind demanding that I stop.  And when I stopped, when I took a breath, when I listened, I heard a voice, presumably what I immediately assumed was The voice of God and that voice calmly yet firmly said, "If I wanted to take him now, Debra, he would no longer be here."  It was in that moment that I knew that my dad was being given a second chance.  It was then that I began to believe that he would make it through the very difficult surgery and recovery.  But it was also then that I understood that beyond all of that, there would be no guarantees.  It might not have been my father's time but a second chance will definitely require some significant lifestyle changes.  One of his doctors straight out told me that if my father does not change his ways, he will die.  I appreciate people who do not skirt around the truth.  I am a sensitive soul but surprisingly tough as nails and I do not like surprises, especially since my little brother dropped dead on us only four short years ago without any warning.

Here is where things get somewhat dicey.  My father was released from the hospital yesterday and although he is regaining his physical strength daily, he still will not speak to anyone on the telephone.  This includes me.  I am not sure if this is a rational or an irrational decision for he is back to running his business via email but he has absolutely no desire to speak to or see anybody right now.  My step-mother texted me to tell me that my father is repeating the words, "NO VISITORS" like a mantra.(insinuating that this also includes me)  This does not surprise me because when I arrived at the ICU to spend some time with my dad the day after his surgery, there was a handwritten note next to his room number on the checkin sheet that specifically stated that "only wife and sister-in-law" were allowed to visit him.  Sister-in-law...Not wife and daughter, but wife and sister-in-law.  They did end up letting me in after speaking with my dad's nurse but I will not even venture to guess what the hell that was about.  And my step-mother, whom I have known since I was sixteen years old and who readily admits that she has been with my father for over forty years(which would have made me ten and my brother four and my father a very married man), professes to love me.  I am too exhausted to even try to muddle through the feelings of another woman who somehow believes that a close relationship between her husband and his daughter somehow diminishes a man's ability to love his wife, first and foremost.  I have lived out that story for my entire life with my own mother and frankly, it truly bores the hell out of me now.  My dad lives two hours away from me and unlike the first eight days of this episode, I cannot completely drop my own life and spend my days waiting around in a hotel room for the couple of hours that I can spend with my father each day.  Of course, immediately after his heart attack and surgery and for the days until he was placed into the transitional care unit, there was no place else on earth that I would have even considered being, but I cannot continually put my own life on hold.  So, I wait.  And pray more.  And I will email him later because I know that he will respond to that, however briefly.  And then, in a week or so, Mark and I will take the drive out to Palm Springs whether he likes it or not because truthfully, it isn't really all about him, or my step-mother, or what he says that he does not want because I am his daughter, his only child.  I know the possibility that we could have lost him was real.  I know that the possibility that we could still lose him is also real but getting a bit more remote with every passing day.  I do not know what his plans are but I have some very nagging feelings in the center of my gut about that.

This is about second chances.  This is about decisions and beliefs and choices.  He can stay after living what he has been through, or, he can go...soon.  I think I already know what God's feelings about that are.  I know what my feelings are.  Mark's feelings. All of our Angel Daughter's feelings.  I still need my father.  In my heart, I am still a small child who believes that her daddy will always be the strong, brilliant, vibrant man who has all of the answers.(well, most of them, anyway)  But I am also a woman who knows that second chances come with both responsibility and a price.  So here we stand.  No bullshit, I will stand by my father in whatever he decides.  I will not nag him, berate him, badger him or judge him.  I will only hope and continue my conversation with God because sometimes, that is the only thing that is within our power to do.

I hope that you are all well and that life is good:)  I have some catching up to do and I promise to update again very, very soon.  Thank you for checking in on us and for sticking with me.
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