TERMINAL…in the depths
A life being discarded,
apparently preparing to be recycled,
tossed into a painful uncertain sea,
death an unknown door in the distance
The edges all fade
into a grey, half light.
There are no sunrises, sunsets,
no brisk clear air,
just a body bag breathing.
Time…confined to the next breath.
The mind…fusses in irrelevance,
dull, grasping, unfocused,
The body…appalling, naked,
without purpose or meaning,
in a searing, writhing stew,
infantile and helpless.
The heart…trickles energy,
reaches, longs to touch
the other or be touched
by friend, nurse, daughter, my God.
and somehow find a sweetness,
Time…still confined to the next breath and
why in God’s name, get another?…
Even tho I had no real relief from my suffering for another couple months until I had my first ERCP from John Martin in late Jan/2011, I endured better. From that moment on I began to find it in me to go to bible study meetings with my sister’s church group. At the end they would pray for me and I would pray with them. That community along with several other prayer communities added much appreciated power for me to meet each new day and more importantly each night…for nights were always the hardest. 7/11/19
Day after day,
Week after week,
Month after month,
With only my body bag holding on
To a mere thread of frayed connection
To an invisible source.
Only able to sleep
I don’t know how…
Probably at sheer exhaustion
For an hour in a day,
Unable to find the least comfort in temperature
My skin erupting like bubbling lava
I yell out
Sometimes in anger
Usually in piteous moan
What could I have possibly done
What could my father have possibly done
To deserve this fate?
My voice more and more
Fills an empty chamber,
Eventually speaking not a word.
God can’t be listening
I have lost most everything
But this one breath.
I seem so close to an end,
I have let go so completely
that it clearly seems
That a final one
Was a vexing choice
And in the vexing place
transformed to so sweet a spot.
and in that so sweet a spot,
I stood in a threshold
With suffering behind me
And I know not what before me.
There was a peace waiting
And I choose to take another breath
and another until
I don’t choose anymore
Whatever came came.
Meaning incredibly returned.
There was no fight
Only a sweet act of will.
It didn’t matter one way or the other.
Every year, like a bird in migration, I find my way back to the beginning of that new life of mine. I still find myself standing dumbstruck over what has happened in this ‘little life of mine’. Dumbstruck, crying in appreciation and joy that that same crazy God has me here yet.
I just returned from the annual revisit with its updated evaluations at the University of Washington transplant center where so much additional medical intervention occurs and has occurred. The anxiety within me this year before going in for my 22nd ERCP (that resurrection procedure at the altar of death and life) was higher than usual. That is not saying that it’s ever been very high, for I’ve ‘learned’ that my life for the better part of a decade has not been in my hands or control. I will continue to say that surrender has been my ‘go-to’ mode. When I’ve stood on the precipice as often as I have the trip down seems to look not so far down anymore. But it is still a pretty good leap. There is a part I play in the surrender now that I think of it. First, is to acknowledge the anxiety to myself and a few chosen ones closer to me now. Whew…I said it. Then the spirit of this whole mystery tour kicks in and many, many of the people who have ‘been there for me’ start coming into view from the pictures all over my apartment to writings and lists of them all over my apartment to finding them on the street, phone, email. They surround me like a host of angels watching my life on interactive TV, clicking on ‘like’, ‘sad’, ‘stupid’, ‘praying for you’, ‘love’, ‘again?’, ‘ignore’, ‘skip’ icons/actions. Nonetheless, it is magically true to reality. I love them, connect with some, then as in moments like this, send out an update to as many as I know. A special love bolt goes out to Roni, that special one who knows what it takes to stand on that precipice with me!
Thanks for everything! The journey continues.
This time, at the last minute, the morning I was to start the drive (8/6/19), a dear friend, Steve Tornga decided to join me in the trip as a co-driver and companion on the 10 hr. trip and some of the schlepping about. The ERCP went even more smoothly and exceptionally than expected. It took Dr. Balmadrid only an hour to complete the stent replacement with only 8.3 minutes of fluoroscopy (radiation)…half of what has been normal. My recovery was my absolute best too. I felt great the next day walking all around downtown Seattle with Steve while pushing those nasty anesthesia drugs out of my system in such a pleasant way. For those who believe that prayer makes a difference…I have asked those close to me to pray for Dr. Balmadrid’s focus and guidance of his hands and experience as the main focus of intent. It is so evident that that happened. He, himself seemed surprised at how easily it went! And by way of follow up, I won’t be going back for the next replacement for 5 months (as opposed to 3-4). He says with the number of these procedures, I am in rarefied position in the number and success of the procedure worldwide. So, it seems that I now have 5 months to get my act together. Hep Me?! Please Hep Me?
I jest but I really do need ‘hep’. These last few months has challenged my ability to sustain even a functional relationship with a few once key players in my life. I am at a loss to find a way. Apparently, even though I view most of my relationships as at least functional and most, greatly fulfilling, I must have a great shadow following me with them as we can’t seem to find even kindness to guide us. Distance grows. My heart is heavy and resigned. Prayer and my finding a guide to hep me is required. If you are willing, please pray with a picture something like…, put us all in an opaque bubble in which God and desire can shed light where light needs to be shined growing love at any level. Thank you.
My rideshare (Uber/Lyft) experiences are getting quite intense of late. Suicidal passengers, needy and those in some crisis or another keep stepping into my car for our opportunity to connect for the few minutes we travel together. Unconditional regard is about all I have to offer. There is no way of doing follow up.
My writing is moving forward. I will be posting a few of my recent poems. They are essentially right on but know that they will get a few rewrites over time, I’m certain. They can only be understood in the context of the commentary that accompanies them. I hope they can carry something that has been difficult for me to express in any other way.
Clare has returned from her ALG/Adventure Learning Grant year in Australia and Ireland a few days ago. She will be joining me here for a few days as we download that experience as best as we can and begin preparing for her final year at Western Washington University/Fairhaven Honors College. I think all young people need some good unconditional regard from us ‘olders’…and some money. Pray for us on both counts. 🙂 Can’t wait to see her.
This last year has been the first at the onset of my seventh decade! For that I am very blessed and send my blessings to you on your adventure learning experiences!
Please send along any comments, questions, advice. I do eventually get back on this site or otherwise as appropriate.
Some edited parts of a post I made just before transplant in 2014. They are about Roni follow.
“Somehow, details and stories later but God has graced me with more that adequate energy and mental capacity to see this through. I said today that I have yet to be this busy since going to graduate school in chiropractic when I was in my late 20’s! I will need a transplant and recovery just to have a vacation. And Roni left me a message recently that said, ” you know, Pat, that this is one of those RARE times in life where one focuses on the outcome and not the process.” Amen.
Details: I leave this Sunday, August 17 by plane to Chicago to meet up with Roni at the airport from her travel from Tucson. We may be picked up by one of her cousins (a wonder worker) and schlepped to a hotel near the hospital to be ready to arrive at 6:45am for tests and ‘a bunch of things’ that will prep us. Tuesday is a light day except that we will get out to the apartment and try to make it a little home-like, stay in it one night, love each other (not in that way…this is not a novel) and be with each other in a way where I know someone that I am in a room with is the person who is willing to lay down their life for me the next day. Try that on for size. In my opinion, she is giving me the biggest act of love anyone could give another!!! Then I live the rest of my life with a part of her inside me providing me healthy, new function so I can be me, love more, pray more, be there more when my kids might need or want me.”
Thanks again, Roni dear!
I care about my fellow man as I am sure do you. My 70 years of being taught to care, learning how to care, making a living caring for others as a chiropractor, volunteering in serving my fellow person…poor, uneducated, unhealthy, rich, religious, non-religious, disabled, dying, spiritual, cruel, clueless, mean, kind. Everyone of them amazing but…
Now just in one day on my email message board is this representative sampling of those messages that began with something like…
- Our society/country risks falling behind…
- Our saving won’t last long. Hurry…
- I spend much of my time worrying…
- The count down in On!…
- Experts prepare for 100 years flood…
- The wait is over, redemption will happen this weekend…
- You appeared in 12 searches…
- Our son goes to trial in one week…
- I’m asking you for $…
- Help raise the Laugh Force…
- The richest family in America, $170 B…
Again with added info
- Our society/country risks falling behind…could be from any presidential candidate
- Our saving won’t last long. Hurry…could be from any corporate entity
- I spend much of my time worrying…notable leader
- The count down in On!…for more ‘stuff’
- Experts prepare for 100 years flood…give now even more
- The wait is over, redemption will happen this weekend…hoped for currency reevaluation, could be Jesus is Coming too.
- You appeared in 12 searches…ohhh, someone is looking for me
- Our son goes to trial in one week…help us. it’s so unjust
- I’m asking you for $…a very straight up plead, from a candidate, could be from any office
- Help raise the Laugh Force…from a very creative political activist
- The richest family in America, $170 B…I have to admit this is appalling
So how are you coping?
I don’t have TV but what’s that content communicating?
If I listened to regular radio, tv hmmm?
How much do we need to know?…before it erodes our ability to abide in love, joy, belief?