Over the long weekend (the terribly named Family Day Monday here plus a bonus Friday off school for E.) we drove to see my Dad. The last time we’d seen him had been just after Christmas. The intervening seven weeks had been typical ones for us, filled with school and work, sunshine and snow, bedtimes and Netflix, crumbs on the table and Cheerios on the floor. P. had decided she loved colouring and had started sleeping until 6 a.m. before wanting to nurse at night. E. had performed in his winter concert and had brought home an excellent report card (his first one with ‘real’ letter grades). Q. had had a birthday. I had been to the dentist and the endocrinologist. P. had endured an ultrasound. E. had made huge progress in his swimming lessons, for the first time in three years.
Little things happened, bigger things happened, but I’d describe those weeks as ordinary ones in our lives. Ten years from now I probably won’t remember much of what happened, other than what I’ve written down in my five-year journal.
My father, as it turns out, hadn’t LEFT HIS ROOM since the last time we saw him.
Seven weeks in an ICU hospital room, watching television, reading email, Skyping. Not even able to easily look out the window because of how his room is oriented.
It broke my heart.
He could have left his room, it turned out, but only to drive his chair around the ICU, and he hadn’t seen the point.
While we were there, he was able to venture a bit further, and we saw first-hand how rusty he was at driving his chair and navigating doorways after close to two months without any practice. labmonkey asked some good questions about why Dad was confined to the ICU and what the doctors thought they were achieving by this decision, and hopefully he’ll now be better able to get out and about, at least within the hospital.
I’ve read a lot about the idea of post-traumatic growth, that people who experience a major trauma often feel like they experience personal growth afterwards, that the adversity faced becomes the catalyst for positive psychological change.
I know this has been true for me since 2016.
I am better able to appreciate my life, less inclined to stress about small things.
I get less agitated when driving.
I am ever more grateful for Q. and the life we have built together.
I am more likely to notice moments of ordinary happiness.
There is not a day that goes by where I do not look up while I am walking to notice the sky, the wind, the light.
I see more beauty in the everyday.
The sun glinting off the snow in the schoolyard when I drop E. off in the morning.
Bare trees against a blue sky.
Grey stone and wooden desks in the library.
There is very little that is ordinary in my life that does not now remind me of my father.
Slipping on ice but catching myself before I fall.
Pulling my children on a toboggan.
Opening a book.
I would give up my growth in an instant, go back to being worried and busy and fretful and oblivious to the wonder that is my life, if it meant that he could have his back again.