Today my mom sent out a prayer request for my dad, who has not been eating because of the maintenance chemotherapy. She wanted to wait for him to okay the e-mail or to write one of his own, but as time shrinks his stomach and swells his abdomen with swamp-water-like fluid she decided not to wait.
I feel strange at work, where the reality of my parents’ situation occasionally spills out of my mouth as my vocal chords constrict all on their own when co-workers unexpectedly ask how I am. I don’t tell them because I don’t want to think about how I should act. I only want to feel the feeling of being me moment-to-moment as I carve out this life in which people I think of today give me plenty of notice that they’ll be gone tomorrow.
Truthfully, I have always felt good thinking about impermanence. It’s only when I begin to think of the permanent that I begin to feel trapped. It’s terrifically clichéd, but it feels good to think of a world that allows me to know my granny, my granddad, my Aunt Barbara, my Uncle Lynn, and my dad, and to think that that same world that still holds all their sweet memories in all those generous forms will be the same world that no longer hold their confusion and pain.
Not that my dad is dead yet because, like me, he is not.
But, like me, like you, he is everything and nothing—an amalgamation of how he perceives, how he is perceived, and all the rest that is unknowable. Isn’t that a nice thought?
And sitting here on the tail end of summer as an autumnal crispness is just creeping into the air and thinking about the immense gift of these past two years with my dad. Well, if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.