Listen ~ 9 minutes
Four years ago, at the beginning of November, it was clear that Paul was entering a different stage. He was in a lot of pain and it was during that time when we were trying to keep his pain managed that he went into palliative care. Initially we thought just for a short time, maybe the weekend or a little bit more than that, but then he would be coming home. And of course he never did come home. He did move from palliative care. He went from there to hospice.
So four years ago our world became much smaller and much more focused. It was held within a small room where people would come and visit, while we watched Paul's final journey take its course.
And somehow this morning it occurred to me that I broke my foot on the anniversary of that happening. And already in this time of drawing in and focussing, with the global pandemic, suddenly I had to draw in even further, and once again become much more present to this one place, to these particular four walls and to the one person who lives within them, besides myself, which is Paul's father, Bill.
In the same way that when we were in hospice I relied on people to bring things, to bring food, to bring connection. And we reached out to let people know, to stay in touch. We had a project we were working on which helped focus our attention as well. And now, once again, I'm reliving having to ask for help. Ask people to bring food. Having someone else do the laundry and some of the housework. In the same way that four years ago my parents would pick up my laundry from the hospice and bring food.
It was a time of focus. And it was a blessed time of focus. It really was. It was a time where we put our attention on Paul, on his music, his legacy .... And his comfort. And accompanied him, as much as you can accompany someone.
Christmas will be ....
And again there's a parallel to this moment. I can accompany Bill so far in his journey in dementia but you can walk along with someone, to some degree, but you can never experience exactly what they're experiencing. Particularly when they're on these kinds of journeys, because in many ways they've shifted to a different realm that we can't shift to at this point. They’re enough in the world that we can continue to see them and to interact and to walk beside, but their path is actually on a slightly different realm. And this time of having a broken foot, really in some ways puts me back in that moment, encourages me to focus in to this place. When I was starting to reach beyond him a little bit, to recognize that Bill needs more focussed support, more consistently. I cock my ears differently now, listening, as I used to do with Paul to just have at least a pulse on his breathing.
Christmas 2016 was surely a different Christmas. And lots of people are talking about how this Christmas is so different and the loss and lament about what it often is, and isn't. And for me it's, it's just a Christmas that of course is different but I've walked through a different Christmas before. And there was a lot a loss in that Christmas. But there was also connection. I remember, you know, just taking the step of asking my niece if she would bring turkey from the dinner that she was going to be having with her then boyfriend's family. And they gladly shared a turkey dinner with us. What a Blessing. And Finn and I ate that dinner sitting beside Paul. We were watching The Princess Bride. Paul was mostly snoozing and of course he couldn't eat.
But it is a memory that I hold on to. Not the happiest memory, perhaps, but certainly a cherished one. Because we were together and really that's what mattered in that moment. And this Christmas we will be together with Finn. He’s going to come and be here with us, with Bill and I. And the three of us will share our turkey dinner. And my parents will come and pick up some dinner and take it home to eat at their house. And Christmas will be ....
So this convergence of pandemic and broken foot has brought me to this moment, a moment of drawing even further in to the beauty of what is right in front of me. The things that matter. The love that still exists. The ways we reach out to each other. And a call to see the Blessing that is. The Blessing that truly and surely is .... ....
Clock ornament image by Finn Leahy.
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