Monday, January 13, 2014

Living in the Moment, Family Life and Aortic Dissection

Life is predictably arbitrary.
Dolphin swimming with the current, Mantanzas River
Just when we think we've have mastered our existing set of challenges, other issues capriciously appear out of nowhere, either 'upsetting the apple-cart' or broadening our wisdom, depending on how we want to view these unexpected chapters of our lives.

Yesterday four kids and a dolphin swimmingly through the Mantanzas River's swift currents taught me more about life.

Most days it is all I can do to ponder how I am going to make it through another day with this Marfan Syndrome painted body.  Will my damaged aorta hold out another moon's orbit?    It is so easy for me to become totally absorbed in my own personal health drama.

Don't get me wrong!  Each heartbeat is a gift for me and I know I must be very careful with everything I do from lifting anything over a couple pounds to coping with low pressure weather systems that wreck havoc on my bionic heart parts.

But it is easy to think; me, me, me; my problems.

Compound that with my wife Judy's serious and chronic health issues and I quickly think I am in 'cope ability' overload.

This past month Judy's second eldest daughter suffered a brain hemorrhage, a very serious aneurysm leaving her almost blind.  She is a single mother of two high powered teenagers.  But then again, most all teenagers are 'high powered'.

Judy spent the entire last month sleeping in a hospital room chair, by her daughter's side, every night guiding her through immense periods of pain, helping her daughter navigate the unknown of cerebral bleeding.

I spent the month tending to our two teens, cooking, cleaning, and all the things two parents normally do.

I always say, "my doctor tells me my number one job is to stay alive".  I love this mantra because it allows me to hide inside myself; a place I am familiar with, a place I mostly control and a place where I can placate my self absorbedness.

"It's difficult!" I would proudly and without humility tell those who ask how Judy and I are holding up as we extended ourselves out past our comfort zone.  I loved the attention and I was truly looking forward to her finally coming back to our home once the doctors had stabilized her daughter's bleeding and rehabilitation had begun.

Our two teens are tough enough for two relatively healthy parents to properly raise.  But parenting them all by myself for a short time was taking its toll and I was ready for my wife to come back home from out of town.

Judy's daughter is now recuperating and working with rehabilitation.  Her vision has been seriously impacted, however we are so glad she is alive.  She has a very long road ahead of her with respect to being able to take care of herself again.

Her two teens coming to live with Judy and I, their 'Nana' and 'Papa K', is the best solution until their mom's healing is complete.  Now we have four teens, two teens of our own and two grandchildren teens.

Just the physical logistics of this family integration seemed complicated and overwhelming at first.  But in fact it was a blessing.

Yes the laundry requirements have jumped, as did the amount of food to prepare and the energy output on our part as parents.

But I am learning so much about life from all four teens and also from the dolphin we saw yesterday while out on a picnic down by the beach.

Yes, there are strong currents.  The waters in Mantanzas Inlet are swift.  But if you learn not to fight them, you can go so many new places.  So it is with the many unexpected challenges we face from time to time.

There may be lots more work but there is also lots more laughter, smiles and insights and understanding about our human spirits, like when Dylan ran up to Judy the other day and gave her a really big joyful hug.   Perhaps at the end of the day that is all life is really about.

Yesterday, taking the four teens to Mantanzas National Monument we rode the ferry boat across the river to the fort.  Dolphins swam playfully alongside the craft.  In the middle of the swift flowing potentially treacherous waters, one dolphin rolled up across a wave's crest and loudly pulled in a deep breath.  Our two grandchildren exclaimed loudly pointing, smiling, exclaiming, exuding a sense of wonder and amazement for life in the midst of their deep fear and concern for their mother.
Mantanzas River, Kayaker and Dolphin
Breathing deeply, swimming with the currents, laughing, hugging and living in the moment despite whatever comes our way sure beats that depressing mantra "your number one job is to stay alive".

I think it is time for me to adapt a new mantra.  I am not sure how to word it yet but the thoughts of 'love', 'hope', 'swimming with the currents' and 'living and breathing in the moment' will be what it is based upon.

Maybe my number one job is to breathe deeply, live in the moment and show love and be loved, despite whatever swift currents may drag and pull.  I'll swim with the flow.

No comments: