two weeks ago, on march 6th, while i was flying across the atlantic to the states, my dad took a serious fall and hit his head in the bath about 3 am in the night. the ambulance came in the middle of the night to take him to the emergency room of a nearby hospital, as he was bleeding badly from the side of his head. since then, dad has been in intensive care continuously.
throughout these two weeks, my dad has been only slightly and occasionally conscious. while i've been in the room with him, at the best, he will open an eager, longing eye and smile faintly, but then quickly, easily, slips back to the depths of sleep and that nebulous world beyond tiredness or awareness.
now, this past week, dad's been suffering from pneumonia and a deep leg thrombosis. because of these additional complications, the medical staff have intubated him (providing air to his lungs) and opened a main line for dopamine (to balance his pulse and increase his heart rate).
yet my father is often agitated, restless, twisting around in the hospital bed and grimacing. after over two weeks horizontal, even at the tender mercies of the (often) kind-hearted staff, with tubes protruding from his mouth, his chest and other parts of his body, he must be terribly uncomfortable.
he is, no doubt, aware that he cannot speak or articulate his thoughts, his fears or his feelings and, therefore, must be so hurt and isolated as he watches the doctors and nurses come and go while his body appears to weaken around him.
then, because there is so much pain, the staff give him increasing doses of morphine and other pain-killers which sedate him, rest him and cause him to lose track of where he is and how much he wants to be well again, free from these constraints and with us standing, watching someone else suffer so on that bed...
in many ways, we realize that dad is too far beyond to come back in a way that we would want for him (or he for himself). so, we are waiting to see how his treatment goes this week, and whether there is any slight chance of a recovery -- but, honestly, it doesn't look good.
as you can imagine, it's not easy for any of us -- especially, priscilla, my mom, who will have to make some of the decisions about how much life support and further medical treatment to continue to offer dad in the coming days.
but, as we know, have seen, and been always taught, life doesn't often end easily, nor do any of us ever escape the travails and pains of mortal suffering, either our own or those we profoundly love...
suffering remains the constant in our daily lives, transformed and released for many by profound means of meditation, for some by the transubstantiation, for others by deep ritual prayer or the constant repetition of a sacred name of g-d.
yet, in all manners and languages, these are forms by which we bless and sanctify the ineluctable passage of the body and soul as they return to the great and unknowable universal, immutable and constant source from which we originally came.
and to where we each, in our own way, in our own time, return.
bless you, dad, for all of your love, care and kindness with which you protected us for these many decades. some times it was more than we could absorb, some times more than we needed, but it was always from your devotion to us, your children, to shield us from the raw realities of the world outside.
you have done your work well. know, as you go, that we are all well. your wife taken care of, your children with loving partners secure in this world. your ten grandchildren each making their way, sometimes lost and confused, as the world can be a hard and uncertain world, yet often with joy and enthusiasm on their faces, as the world can be a delightful and charming passage -- but always loved and protected, as you taught us, by their parents and friends.
go in peace, my great father.
travel beyond now.
it is time for your next journey.
your next adventure in this mystery of life
and what comes after death.
yet as you go through that gateless gate,
remember to leave some crumbs along the way,
so we can easily follow, in our own time.
we won't rush, however,
because we know where to find you.
and, if not, if somehow we forget what we learned once,
we know that you will find us.
as that is the nature of love...
shimmering faintly in the darkness
we see every night above the himalaya.
there for all of us to see,
you will never be very far away.
beyond the beyond.