03 August 2005

My Times

On rare occasions an event happens in your personal life which forces you through a "wondernous of earth," a personal earthquake which rattles your structural bones and leaves you with your foundations bare and your rubble to be cleared away.

My father's massive heart attack in 1998 was such a time. With a dozen balls in the air, I abandoned my job and my house to sit in his hospital room for the better part of two months, waiting for some sign that he would recover his life, watching his bodily systems shut down one at a time. In the process, I lost quite a bit of mine. I threw myself fully into his life, making his decisions, trying to think as he would if he could, trying always to act on his behalf, fully conscious that, in the end, it would probably make no difference to the outcome. When I returned to pick up the pieces of my life in Virginia, I found there were virtually none that were intact, because the Tatyanna who returned to that life was entirely different from the Tatyanna who had left it.

He made a miraculous recovery by heart attack standards, though he never did regain full function and, when he finally did die in 2002, he was ready to go. I said goodbye to him in 1998, in those early summer weeks when, daily, we had to remake the decision to keep on life support. I knew I'd never see him alive again, and I was right in a way. I did not make it back to Michigan throughout the remainder of his life. I don't know that I regret that. I know that I feel I should regret it. But I also know that I had no remaining resources after 1998 with which to support a closer relationship in the following years.

And now it has come again, another wondernous of earth, this time occasioned by Mary's situation. And again, I pulled back from everything else to focus on her needs and help her through this time. And again, I find that, upon being returned rather rudely to the land of Uncrisis, my character has changed and I no longer recognize large chunks of the landscape that I had so recently inhabited with ease.

How will my priorities sort themselves out? When will I gain a sense for the new balance? What resources do I have to reweave the threads of my life and what pattern will that tapestry now take? These are the questions that spin through my brain. These are my times.