Listening With My Heart

When Dad was first diagnosed and I knew nothing about Pulmonary Fibrosis, I stumbled upon the Huff and Puff group, an internet group made up of people with P.F and the loved ones who try to help.

As you can imagine, as with any incurable disease, it's tough going. But these folks always come up with something to ease the pain, or answer the question. Sometimes it's a reference to a journal article, or a good doc, or a personal account of how they dealt with whatever situation is put before them. And when all else fails, they tell jokes...really awful, corny jokes...Like:

A blonde calls the fire department and sounding like the typical valley girls says, "My house is on fire, my house is on fire". The Fire fighter who answered the phone asks, "How do we get there?" To which the blonde replies, "Duh, big red truck!"

See what I mean?

These guys are wonderful. When someone's down, they pull them up. When someone dies, everyone mourns and comforts the family left behind.

So when I wrote to tell them about Dad, they were predictably wonderful. They said things like:

Hi Nancy
We are so sorry and yet it seems that you really shared a special life together with your dad. For that you are so blessed.
Did you know that the word blessed means fortunate? Isn't that beautiful?
Much love and hugs,
John and Pam

And this:

I think the Wisest Man in the Universe has an amazing daughter. I appreciate your sharing with us your father and the time you spent with him at the end of his life. And I can't imagine a better passing than the one you helped your father experience.

You truly did "love him swell" and with an open heart right through it. I admire your bravery in doing that. I would imagine it would be tempting to draw inward and protect yourself at least a little bit from the whole hurt of it, but you didn't do that. You are a living testament to his wisdom and compassion; he did good work in you.


I opened their responses this morning, saw the words "Wisest Man in the Universe," and felt my throat tighten as an ocean of missing Dad overpowered me with its unexpected arrival. I kept on moving through my morning, ignoring the hole in my heart, pretending there wasn't a room deep inside my chest where a girl sat crying for her father.

Because that is how it has to be now. I have to keep moving forward, one step at a time. To do anything else would be dishonoring my Dad's teachings. But sometimes I am so tired and it is an effort to force myself to do and go and be. The world swirls on around me. People forget. They assume it's all normal deep down inside where I live. They push and yell and complain. They bitch and I take it personally.

And then...I drag ass into the nursing home, lugging an armful of donated stuffed animals to give to my lonely old guys...And there sits Cookie.

When she sees me, when I put a soft, squishy bunny into her arms, she breaks out in a delighted giggle. She is smiling like a little girl on Christmas morning- A little girl who perhaps only moments before was desperately hoping her big brother was wrong about Santa Claus ...Hoping that when she walked down the stairs magic would happen and the world would be as it should be...Full of joy and surprises.

I knelt down beside her wheelchair. Cookie is losing her words now. Syllables come out, sometimes a familiar word, but never a phrase or a sentence. She looks at the bunny, then at me. She clutches the rabbit in one hand and pats the top of my head with the other.

"Yes," she says, smiling and stroking my hair. She looks from my face back to the bunny and back again to me. She hugs the fluffy rabbit, pats my head, placing us together in her head. "Yes. There."

I feel the weight on my heart lighten and ease just a bit. I feel my father's voice in my heart, preparing for communion, facing the congregation he would say, "Do this in remembrance of me."

Okay, Dad. I'm listening.


Anonymous said...

Very touching.

se7en said...

Very nice and touching post! =)

Nickle Annie said...

You made me cry again, of course. I love reading the stories of your life.