|not my storm -- courtesy of millicent_bystander on flickr|
For some reason, driving toward the storm made me emotional. I kept thinking of this phrase, "into the storm." It feels as though it defines my life lately.
The storm was up ahead; it wasn't raining on us yet. We could see flashes of lightning in the distance, but we couldn't even hear the thunder. We could see the gap between the storm clouds in the sky and the earth below, and see that the rain was not hitting the earth yet.
It felt like a metaphor for my dad's illness. Diagnosis of leukemia: storm clouds ahead.
I was too cheery when we learned the news, thinking, "Leukemia? Lots of people get that, and they get treatment, and they go on their merry way."
I remember the night of his diagnosis, we had dinner at my house, a potluck of sorts from our fridge, my parents' fridge, and my sister's. Quiche, soup, bread. There might have been salad.
It wasn't a bad time. But my mom was sullen, my sister, too. I think I was pretty...okay?
I remember my dad was tired and was ready to go home right after dinner. The leukemia, coursing through his blood, sapping his strength. I know that now.
The next day was sort of his "last day of freedom," and then the following day was admission day. Time to get into the hospital, get fluids going, get the port put in, have an MRI, more tests. A week later, he was done with the first round of chemo and sent home...an early gift? He had expected to be in the hospital a month, and now he got to go home after only one week.
Thursday. Going home.
Friday. Lunch with friends at his favorite dive bar. He had been craving a beer in the hospital, and he had one with wings for lunch that day. My dad is not really a wings-and-beer kind of guy, but that's what he wanted.
Saturday. Fever. Call to the doctor, she says go to the Emergency Department.
I wish he could have looked around his house before we left for the hospital. I wish he could have studied his favorite parts of the farm. I wish he could have nuzzled the dog. Did he know in his gut that he wouldn't be going back again?
A week and a half in the hospital, and he was dead.
At that point, the threat of the storm became the reality. The clouds hanging above the earth touched down. Rain, thunder, lightning, hail...it's all come down since then.
There have been gifts, though.
|cardinal photo courtsey of ra_hurd on flickr|
Tonight, as we drove into the storm, there was a cardinal sitting on a wire above the road.
Since my dad has passed, I've had a keen awareness of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, those flying creatures on which we might believe that spirits alight. Cardinals in particular seem to mean something to me. I don't have anything clear to say about it, other than the sense of peace that they give me.
Looking up at this cardinal while we drove toward the dark clouds, tears came to my eyes and I felt a sense of gratitude.
I do know that even though my dad's body is no longer functioning, transporting him around on this earth, tangible and solid and present, his spirit remains. I don't doubt it, even though I don't sense it constantly. Even in the storm, he is with us. The cardinal reminded me of that.
Lots of love, Dad. Boy, I do miss you.