Friday, November 6, 2009

Gratitude, Part 3

Today, I'm grateful for bonds.

I've always thought people are connected by invisible strands. Like those times when you know you need to call your sister, despite the fact that you just talked to her the day before and everything was fine. Like the way you just know that your boss, who usually arrives after you, is already at work, and you are late. When you feel the mischievousness of your husband, who is stalking you with a cup of cold water to dump onto you while you shower. Call it bonds, call it the Holy Ghost, call it ESP: they are there.

Yesterday I visited my dad. I don't go see him as often as I should. After a few weeks, it starts to wear on me. I'll end up thinking about him at night, when I'm in my cozy bed, and I wish he was in his own cozy bed at home, the home where he lived for over 30 years. My visits are usually short; it's hard to keep up a one-sided conversation for too long. But I try to visit.

It's always a little nerve-wracking when I arrive. If Dad is in his room, there is no telling what sort of state he will be in. So I always hope he's in the TV room, and that is where I found him yesterday. It's amazing to me to watch him see me. I wonder if he will recognize me: he always does. Even though his face doesn't light up, there is an expectation there in his face that I am there for him. We left the crowded TV room for a quiet, empty patient room. I sat next to him on the couch and showed him videos from our San Diego trip. I don't know if he knew who we were, but he seemed to enjoy the images of his grandsons playing in the sand and dodging waves at the beach.

I don't know how it happened, but I found myself next to Dad, telling him how much he still means to me. He started to cry. It wasn't a cry like you would expect, more of a sob that escaped the bonds that keep him from talking. It made me cry, and before I knew it, I was telling him all the things I could fit in, because I knew that for once, he was listening. He was there in the most powerful way he has been in over a year. He couldn't talk back to me, but I think he felt relief (hope, grief?) that someone knew he was in there, aware. We both sat there with tears running down our faces, wishing the moment could stretch on forever. I didn't want to keep making him sad, but some of the things I said I had wanted to say for a long time, and I did not regret them.

At one point, he was looking at me, and I could see him in his brown eyes. The person I knew before was there. He was right there, and I almost thought he was going to break through the sticky layers of proteins that keep him from us. It was so close, but in the end, he was too enmeshed to break out. The moment passed, and he went back to closing his eyes and clasping his hands. But the bond was there. I felt his love, even if he couldn't express it in words.

I doubt I could ever duplicate the visit. I was powerfully reminded of the Holy Ghost, and I felt that even in his condition, the Spirit hasn't forgotten my dad. Just as a blanket brings warmth, the Spirit continues to comfort him. I know that was what allowed my dad to be there for me yesterday, that the feeling of love I felt was helped along by the Spirit. How grateful I am for that, for the bonds that made that moment and expression possible. It is one of the tender mercies I will be able to take with me, one last expression of love from my dad. I will always be grateful for that visit.


Britt said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful experience. I'm sure that someday, when the boundaries of this life are broken, your dad will be able to tell you all of the things that he had to hold in. But until then, I bet he appreciates your visits and your kind word even if he can't always acknowledge them.

Jeanette said...

What a beatiful post, I can feel how much you love him and you have me crying too *sniff*

Ginger said...

Aw Becky that is so neat you got to experience that with your dad. Now you can cherish that moment forever and ever.

Chris Selander said...

Tears are running down my face. I love and miss your dad too. Big Hug to you!! Love you.

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