Monday, June 09, 2014

Pain Anniversaries and Perspective

“Heather you know what today is.” said my mom

It’s the 4 year anniversary of my dad’s stroke.

This is the only anniversary of a painful thing that I keep track of, perhaps you have yours.

Today felt like two other things: the day before my birthday, and the day I intended to launch my kickstarter but I had a glitch, now it’s launching tomorrow morning on my birthday.

So in 2010, on my 29th birthday I was in the hospital where I was born, listening to the emergency helicopters land on the roof, alongside other beeps.  Sitting by my dad’s side as my sister, mom and I took turns, I volunteered for the wee hours.  He kept waking up, looking around, confused.  Fresh out of the stroke his body was mostly paralyzed and he couldn’t speak at all.  His eyes would open wide and he would look around the room and I thought about how scary that must have been to wake up and not know what the FUCK is happening to you, why can’t I speak, why can’t I move?  So every time he did that I would say to him “You just had a stroke, you are in the hospital.” or something like that.

A lot has happened these past four years.  His right side is paralyzed.  He can say the words: Hi, Bye, Yes, No, Ok.  He can write the first letter of a word sometimes.  He has his memory, personality, and can read and comprehend - the part of his brain that takes in language is different from the part that puts it out.  His motor skills are impaired so he can’t just learn sign language.  He cannot use the bathroom without assistance.  My mother has to brush his teeth, cut his food, transfer him in and out of various chairs, beds and cars.

He cannot be left alone, and he has constant needs that he cannot take care of himself.  The world is not built for a wheelchair, his medicine is at least 800 a month WITH insurance, and all of his handicapped things like a chair lift up the stairs and a special van for the special chair cost thousands of dollars.  My mom doesn’t get to relax.  The idea of a vacation is so difficult since the world isn’t built for wheelchairs and especially not most places you like to visit, my mom is exhausted at the idea of trying.

But I call my parents just about every day and I try to visit them once a week.  They are funny.  They are loving.  They are alive.  They raised me in an incredibly supportive, loving, and safe, even if ecclectic, environment.  I’ve had the opportunity to live a life full of adventure and have seen and experienced some of the most incredible things life has to offer.

The number one thing I got from all of this is perspective.
What is BAD really?  What is DIFFICULT really?  What is personal FREEDOM really?

Those voices on the end of the phone are so cute and vibrant and loving.

Some people are able bodied and they are totally miserable to be around.  Which is worse?

These generous people, my parents - I’m lucky to have them, and I’m lucky they are alive, and I’m lucky they are so silly and I’m lucky that I know they love me.  I know not everyone has that.

And they have me too. Maybe one day I’ll be big and successful and then they can have piña coladas on a comfy beach and someone that helps bring them over. On the one hand money isn’t everything, maybe you are someone who has lots of money and no happiness. You can’t force happiness no matter how hard you spend. And so then you need perspective.

And so in that light, the value of perspective shines.

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