I sat down in Jenessa’s chair yesterday and for two hours talked about life, my dad, my upcoming plans while she foiled and washed and cut and styled my hair (so long overdue, she really had her work cut out for her), and afterwards felt like I’d just been to therapy. It’s good to talk about things. It’s good to have the words out there in the world, and so I’ll say them here, too.
My dad is dying. Not in the sense that we are all dying, sooner or later, by ways we thankfully can’t imagine, but in the all-too-real, hospital bed and oxygen machines way. He’s reached Stage 4 of his COPD, and while it’s hard to know how much time is left, it’s clear the time is shrinking.
There’s much to be done, and that’s kicked me into high gear. I’ve always been able to perform on demand. I’m able to compartmentalize quite well: meet with a hospice care team one day and give a final exam the next, for example, as if two entirely different women are performing these very different tasks.
I’m less good at sitting, listening, reflecting. When I’m still, the ache in my heart is too heavy. I can feel it pulling me down, the weight of things said and unsaid, done and undone.
And so, I keep moving.
It’s a Wednesday morning and I’m at home, thighs still throbbing from the YouTube workout I just finished, freshly showered, two dogs napping next to me while I write. I’m not madly printing something out and figuring out what I’m going to wear and packing a lunch and letting the dogs out one last time and making sure there’s at least two hours left on my audiobook.
I’m on summer break, even if it is the strangest summer break of my life, where each day has tentative plans that may or may not happen, and it’s impossible to see far enough ahead to do practical things like book plane tickets, build itineraries.
Still, I’m ticking things off, slowly, one sub-task at a time:
-clean out spare bedroom for Sarah
-finish transition documents for Paul
-figure out food and transportation for Yosemite retreat
In Central California, it was a weird spring—far wetter than normal, and colder, too. We were all glued to our weather apps for flood alerts, and when we met in line at the grocery store, all we could talk about was the rain. So much rain.
Last year I don’t remember ever wearing a winter coat and this year I took it out to wear and put it away four times thinking that was it, winter had to be over, before taking it out once again.
I even wore socks to bed every single night—me, the living furnace. This morning, I woke up shivering, and for a long moment before it all came back to me, I struggled to remember what day it was, what month.
But a new season is coming.
It’ll be here before we know it.
It'll be here, whether we're ready or not.
Paula Treick DeBoard