Thursday, May 08, 2008

Gifts

On this day a whole whack of years ago, my parents welcomed me into the world. After a couple of days of de-gooping at the hospital, they brought me home. At that moment, my life was spread before me - and them. All potential, all forward.

Despite the fact that it's my birthday, I find myself not feeling particularly celebratory. That's because my father spent the day in the ER yesterday, and as I write this, is on his way back to the hospital after being tended to by paramedics after a particularly wobbly episode at home. Yet more milestones on a journey I know he'd rather not be on.

In the overall scheme of things, it hardly merits headlines. Earlier this week, untold numbers of people perished in a storm in a brutally-repressed nation and continue to suffer while their government puts up obstacles to rescuers at the border. Yet another Canadian soldier is coming home from Afghanistan in a body bag. Entire communities of people not too far from here can no longer afford to keep their homes. I get it: the world sucks on a grand scale. But my life isn't about overall schemes of anything. It's about my dad, and the fact that he just can't seem to get well. It doesn't have to make headlines to be significant.

All those years ago, he looked at me through the nursery glass and saw a life ahead of him. Today, I look into a detached screen from far away and try to erase thoughts about his own stage of life. As I fight to find comfort in looking back, I avoid looking forward because then I'd have to deal with whatever uncertainty lies ahead. That's right, I'm an avoider. Like all children, I fear losing my parents, facing life without them long after I ceased to rely so completely on them. I know it's a fact of of our very mortal life, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow.

So if I receive any gift on this somewhat sombre birthday, I hope it's news that he gets to go home, and that this latest chapter moves quickly to a happy ending for him. I'll deal with the bigger picture another time.

45 comments:

kspin said...

So much for not crying today... *sniff* I have been facing an uncertain future as well but in very different circumstances. Your post was so real and heartfelt and I just needed to tell you that.

I hope you find a way to enjoy your birthday and get some comfort.

Pearl said...

I'm sorry to hear it. A dad being ill can make one feel so helpless. I've been thru the same. It doesn't matter that there are other scales of grief. It makes your own no less. One's own grief is consuming. Hang in there.

Jennifer said...

Carmi, I hope you get some comfort and joy on your birthday...you deserve it. I'll say a prayer for your dad...I hope he recovers quickly.

Natalie said...

I am sorry that you and your family are going through such a difficult time right now. I will say a prayer for your father, and hope that he will recover & enjoy many healthy, happy years to come.

BTW, you are a beautiful writer. I know that's your job, but you do it exceptionally well. As I write this my eyes are misted over. My parents have each faced health crises over the past few years, and I am so thankful that they are healthy now. But we don't know what is around the corner, and the future is sometimes a very scary place to contemplate.

Be well.

Finn said...

Oh hon. I'm so sorry. Birthdays should be a time of joy, but I understand.

I'll say a prayer for you both.

Leanne said...

{{hugs}} It's a mutual gift, between you and your father. The gift of life. I do hope you get that news today, and will be praying for your father.

Vered said...

I am so sorry.

I'm not sure what else to say. Just really sorry.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Sorry to hear you birthday is so clouded, Carmi.

daisy said...

Sending thoughts and prayers for your day.

Happy Birthday to you and I hope that your wish comes true quickly.

Linda said...

Sending many positive thoughts in your father's direction and to you as well.

Thaleia said...

Carmi,

I hope your dad will be home soon. Hang in there.

Hugs
Thaleia

Miz UV said...

I can definitely relate to this post. Hope your wish comes true, Carmi.

(And also that you get to have a nice piece of birthday cake. Cake is good.)

Thumper said...

I have fingers crossed for your dad. I know that uncertain feeling all too well; my dad turned 81 yesterday and while I always thought he was invincible, the last few years have made me painfully aware there's only so much time left. And that bites.

I'm glad for you, however, that you're able to be with him. My parents are 1500 miles away and I rely on my siblings to make sure I know what's going on.

In spite of it all, I hope your birthday is happy. Mostly I hope it's happy because your dad is home now and doing all right.

Bubblehead said...

My father is still one of the greatest influences in my life, and I fear the day I go through the same thing.

I hope you get your Birthday wish and your Father is able to come home soon.

Happy B-Day and best wishes to your family.

Susan said...

Carmi, I've been through this with one parent and am going through something similar again. I think it's one of the hardest parts of growing up, when we become the able and strong ones and our parents are the ones who need taking care of.

I'll be thinking of you and your dad today and hoping for good news for both of you.

And I hope despite the circumstances, today will bring you moments of joy.

lissa said...

Unaware of your family difficulties, Carmi, I "sang" happy birthday to you on Facebook. Those sentiments still stand but I will add my prayers to those of the many in your corner, and will keep your dad in my thoughts. I know, all too well, the helplessness one feels at times such as these; you're not alone.

Still, don't forget to allow those around you to celebrate *you*...even if it's a quiet one, your presence on this Earth is their gift.

Hugs sent your way.

Wordnerd said...

Wishing you a very happy birthday despite your somber mood, but wishing even harder that your dad gets to come home and feels better soon. I've said it so many times -- being a grownup sucks sometimes.

Big hugs!

Megan said...

I would hope that some sort of wonderful poetic words could come out of me, to share with you in this moment. I can't think....the only thing in my mind is how I just went through what you are going through now.

So, since this computer has no arms, close your eyes and wrap your arms around yourself....this is a hug from me to you.

I'm so sorry, I was buggin' to hear from you yesterday, I had NO idea. Please except my deepest apology.

Please keep all your blogger buddies update, I'm sure we would all like to help support you, and pray for you!

Sara said...

Carmi,

So sorry to hear about your dad - I certainly hope that he gets better quickly and that you have a peaceful birthday! It is hard having older parents...Mom will be 92 this month.

Tanya (aka NetChick) said...

Hey Carmi...

Have a very happy birthday! I'm sending you and your Dad good wishes today, and hope that you'll get some good news soon about his health.

Your post was beautifully written. It really made me sit back and think. Thank you for sharing it with us.

R. Sherman said...

I congratulate you on your birthday and will add you and your father to my prayers.

Holly Schwendiman said...

Carmi I'm so sorry. My father has been on a rocky road for several years now and it's just plain rotten. I pray for enough sunshine to endure the stormy weather ahead. On the bright side of your birthday, I'm sure it's the greatest gift for your father to be here for another one of yours. Few things bring us parents more joy than good kids and wonderful memories.

Hugs,
Holly

Jacie said...

sending good thoughts to you and your dad...that was beautifully written too and touched me more than anything else has today

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Carmi,
I can understand the feeling of helplessness as you sit and wait and hope that whatever is wrong with your loved one is figured out and corrected almost too well. It was 2 years ago this month that my husband,Bradley, was in the hospital for a week while they figured things out and got things stabilized and under control. Everything with him is fine now with medication and monitoring.
I hope and pray that the same thing occurrs with your father and that your birthday turns out to be a happier one after all.
Take care.
Terri

Star said...

Happy Birthday. Carmi. And many more. I hope you get all you wish for.

HRH Courtney, Queen of Everything said...

My thoughts and prayers are with your family.
Maybe there's just something floating in the universe right now, causing discontent and fear. I'm in a similar spot of uncertainty myself.
Have a peaceful birthday.

Carol said...

hang in there carmi.... i'm hoping things will turn out alright for your Dad.... he sure raised a wonderful son....

and hey, birthdays are a celebration of life.... so i'll celebrate that day for you because you have brought so much into our lives... thankyou for being you....

(((hugs)))

Erin said...

Happy Birthday, Carmi.

Your words are always so moving. I will keep your father and your family in my prayers.

tommie said...

wishing you peace and happiness on your day!

Catherine said...

All the best for your Dad, and I hope some joyous birthday moments happened, too - I think your birthday must be over by now, it's late Friday here in New Zealand

Evey said...

Sorry to hear about your dads illness. I certainly hope that things are looking up.

Happy belated birthday to you. I hope you found some time, even if only a few minutes to enjoy your day.

Diane Mandy said...

I am hoping the best for you father!

Sleepypete said...

Long term injuries and illnesses can be really tough to deal with - and not just for the person who has the medical problem.

Hang in there :-)

I hope your birthday was happier than it read like and that you got some good news eventually.

Michele sent me - this time ;-)

Megan said...

Any more word on you Dad yet?

Bob-kat said...

I hope you get the birthday present that you wish for - good news.

Pain is personal Carmi. True on a world scale it is one person but in your world this is significant. Sending your family many positive thoughts from across the ocean.

Michele does too I'm sure.

Nikki-ann said...

My thoughts are with your Dad and I wish him a speedy recovery.

Still, I hope you still enjoy your birthday and have a wonderful day.

Take care.

P.S. - Michele says Hello!

photowannabe said...

No pretty platitudes just heart felt wishes for you and your Dad.
Hugs from a blog friend.
Sue

Killired said...

OMG, are you kidding me? Your birthday was really yesterday??? My birthday is today!!!!! No wonder we 'click'...
Happy Belated Birthday!

PI said...

Carmi: I say a prayer that he comes through this. As you say - leave the bigger picture for later. One can't - when one is old - ask for more than love and support and I'm sure your father has both in buckets.
Many happy returns!

marmiteandtea said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your dad.

There is a particular kind of horror and helplessness to seeing someone who has always been a strong and protective figure in your life wobble.

Sending positive thoughts your way.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

A Belated Birthday Wish, Carmi, and Prayers for your Dad...! I can empathize with you, my deae...I know how hard ut us to watch as your parents begin to move to another stage of "The Ages Of Man". Not easy, I know. My heart and thoughts are with you and with him.
I hope your "day" was as good as it could be under these circumstances.

Beverly said...

It's Saturday, and I've been away from my computer for a few days. I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. I'm keeping you in my thoughts and prayers..Life is hard.

Moogie said...

What a wonderful post. It really touched my soul. My father has congestive heart failure (after heart problems for years) and is suffering the effects of the disease. Last night, we found out my FIL is going to have surgery on Wednesday to repair an aortic aneurysm, if possible. My husband is flying the great northwest on Monday to be there.

All of this has made me feel extremely helpless, and it feels much like I have switched roles and become the parent. The worry is always there.

I hope you were able to find some happiness on your birthday, and I'm praying that the days to come will be filled with good news about your father.

Blessings,
Laura

Scarlet said...

As close as I am with my father, I can understand where your pain and frustration come from. We know it's part of the journey of life, losing loved ones, but like you, I choose not to go there. "Tomorrow will take care of itself," they say. I certainly hope so. I also hope things look up for your dad.

ella said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad.

Wishing you a (very belated) happy birthday - I hope you managed to find some happiness on the day.