Friday, August 5, 2011

Where to now?

Tuesday night of RAGBRAI ended with me in tears, hating everything.

The question... with all that against the ride, should I continue? It wasn't 100% clear. "Giving up" vs. "Letting go" has been a long-term struggle.

Perhaps I should back up. Dad had multiple sclerosis. He was diagnosed about the time I was in kindergarten or first grade. Of course diagnosis follows a period of time with doctors and experts working out what might be going on preceded by another period of time in which Mom and Dad were attempting to unravel the mystery. So Dad's MS more than likely precedes my time on earth. Up until two-and-a-half months ago, I had spent my entire life in a world that included my dad. That world also included his disease. And while that disease did not define him. It did serve to shape our world.

It makes sense then that I've spent my whole life preparing for an untimely death of my father. Sometimes consciously each time he had a setback or surgery or unrelated yet nevertheless worrisome health issue.

Does that lessen the grief, spreading it out over the course of forty-some years? Does it make the death less sudden?

I read something about sleep once. That most people perceive it as something that happens gradually and something that we can control. In fact it only seems gradual because we take some control over the environment by darkening the room, ensuring a quiet (or quieter) environment, lying down, closing our eyes and all other manner of making ourselves more comfortable. And because we are relaxed we don't notice that the falling asleep part happens the exact same way that it does -- all of a sudden -- when we nod off in a meeting, at our desks, behind the wheel. Just because our head does not drop suddenly to our chest, thus waking us up, does not mean that when lying down we do not drop away from awake to asleep just as suddenly.

And so despite the fact that over the years multiple sclerosis worked it's magic -- black as it is -- on Dad's muscles and nerves, he was here in this world to visit, talk to or just sit next to during an episode of Wheel of Fortune.  And now he's not.

At 12:44 a.m. on May 16, 2011 he was still here. At 12:45 a.m. on May 16, 2011 he was not.

Tectonic plates inside my body shifted at that moment. The world is a completely different place now. And I can't find my way yet. There are no new maps. And I think I may be the only cartographer for this new world.

And that makes me sad and angry. Which is what got me to the point during RAGBRAI where EVERYTHING pissed me off.

Multiple sclerosis

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