Emotional paralysis doesn't have to mean helplessness, but it's paralysis nonetheless, however fleeting, thankfully mine no longer tainted with any guilt or resentment of old. Even in the moment of hesitation, the decision has already been made; the heart and mind united along the beachhead shoring up any breaches: the money to get there and back, the lost work time, the being away from my girls and the Mama.
"I have to go," I said.
"I know," she said. "We love you and we love them."
"I know," I said. "I love you."
But admittedly, there is helplessness in the helping, an oppressive feeling as if buried up to your neck in sand with the tide coming in. I arrived Wednesday night in Oregon to be with my tired, sick parents. Dad finishing his fifth week of radiation treatment for stage 3 melanoma, and Mom always struggling with a lifetime of auto-immune disorder as well as myriad of interrelated illnesses.
I watch them hold one another and I see the Titanic movie scene where the old couple lays together inside the sinking Titanic, about to go down with the ship. (This was actually based on the real characters Ida and Isador Strauss, who was the co-owner of Macy's department store. Both were offered a place on the lifeboat but Isador refused to go as long as there were still women aboard. His faithful wife refused to leave his side. The couple wasn't actually in bed when the ship went down, but rather on a pair of deck chairs.)
Whatever the story, the metaphor isn't lost on me and I again imagine us as them now; they will go down with their ship together just as the Mama and me have pledged to do, with nothing less than honor and timeless love.
I do know my being here for any length of time does help them emotionally if not physically (running errands and helping around the house). Taking my dad to his last three radiation treatments wasn't a lot, but I'm glad I was here to do it. He's amazingly stalwart and has been so each time he's faced medical adversity. Mom has the ability to draw strength from which there should be no more and does whatever she has to do, just as Dad does for her when he's well and she's not.
They thank God for watching over them and giving them strength and guidance. So do I.
I have no idea the pain they each experience -- no idea what it's like to be strapped to a table and have the sun's power channeled straight into my neck every day for weeks, no idea what it's like to be in constant pain as my body deteriorates more every day.
The only idea I have is in what I know, that I love them regardless and am glad I'm here, heart and mind united.
All done for now, Mom and Pop. All done for now.