Thursday, March 20, 2014

Promises, Promises

Today is the first day of spring, according to the cycles of the sun, the tilt of the planet, the turning of the wheel. Equinox-- when all things are equal, and the dial is switched, wherever you are, marking the turning of the season.

It snowed here in Vermont today, large heavy snow flakes that looked more like mini-snowballs, or maybe instant icicles as the snow landed on already slick packed snow. We have about 2 feet all tolled on the ground, and this snow today felt like a big f-you to the promise of spring.

Promises, promises. I imagine some jilted girlfriend in my reckoning of the unfulfilled promise. Too many disappointed lovers taught me long ago to hold back on the promise. Instead, I opt for a range of possibilities, and a healthy dose of hope.

playing with Forrest, 2011
It's a season of promises foiled. My father got a kidney transplant in November, and had been quickly adapting to a new-found freedom from dialysis and all its effects. For a full 2 months he was looking towards life after quarantine more mobile, more energetic, more. The promise of this incredible risk paying off, this incredible gift being accepted by his body, was palpable in his speech, his glowing face. Health was within reach.

And then came the stenosis, and the specter of lost energy moved in for the duration. He's looking at a valve replacement, and holding onto the daily gift of his life in the face of a lot of uncertainty. Is there a promise on the other side of this risk? Is there some imagined guarantee for this next step on the medical tilt-a-whirl? No, not this time.

Something's changed with my father, with all of us, since the transplant. In another post, I wrote about transformation and resurrection. There is a palpable sense that this level of risk has been entirely worth every single day of the life my father has now. The ability to be present has presented itself. Suddenly, there is now. Before the transplant, I think we were all waiting, and the waiting meant we weren't really aware of what was happening. The discomfort of dialysis, the abbreviated visits, the risks of it, felt entirely wrong. And I am also grateful for the dialysis that kept my father alive for a year before this miracle kidney came along.

And it happened. A kidney did come, and that wasn't a promise, at all. When he was offered this kidney, he jumped, and I mean truly jumped at the opportunity. There wasn't anything that was going to stop him-- not just completing dialysis, not night driving, not anything that was challenging to him. He got there, he took the risk. He saw the risk as a promise, and it paid off. His new kidney is well, so well in fact it's as if he never had kidney function issues at all.

What does this wellness mean in the face of a heart stuck and slowed by plaque accrued through dialysis and age? It's not an easy one to figure out. I've been walking around angry, sad, confused. And then I talk to my father on the phone, and am reminded of the life so earnestly lived, now that the space has opened up for him to live it.

My father talks to me about his music, his art. He talks to me about the moving of the seasons out his window, the frozen lake, the birds, the photographs he is taking. He talks about how he has a quality of life in these months since his transplant that he never thought he would have again.

When I was little, like 8 or 9, my father and I would go running together along the road by Narragansett Bay. The first mile was a glorious down hill skip, while looking at suburban houses and yacht club boat races. We reached Gaspee Rock and had a flat run for the second mile, down through more expensive and tree lined streets, by the entrance to the club, and out to the point. And then we turned around. I would do well until we reached the hill. And though I tried, my father, more often than not, would carry me up that hill on his shoulders.

I'm not going to make some metaphoric leap to my father carrying me, even now, as he lives these different days. It's not like that, we're all adults now, and I don't think I need to be ashamed of my sadness and frustration.  I will say, however, that this journey is a long jog with a lot of hills going up. We reach a plateau, and then the next step is shown to us. No certainty, no promises. Just one step at a time, and often those steps are laborious. I realize now that there are no promises of this time, and to have them, would be as bad a plan as a promise of flowers in Vermont on March 20.

So let go of the promise, the expectation. See what is. We will see, if we are lucky, what is next.

1 comment:

  1. Sweetie, I love the emotions and images that you bring through this piece. Hope, support, uncertainty, beauty, struggle. . . Thank you.
    Peace and Blessings,