My 73 year old Dad collapsed at our home today, repeatedly, before paramedics arrived to assess him and truck him to the hospital for evaluation. It’s possible the causes were heat exhaustion, dehydration, and stress from the fight he’d had with my stepmother before coming over-or a condition triggered by those stressors. By the time he left for Good Sam with the paramedics, he was joking with the response team. My stepmother met the ambulance as it was leaving our house–she and my Dad live only two miles away. Our local firehouse is the same distance in the opposite direction–it took them five minutes to arrive.
That’s the stage. This entry is more a note about emotional response. Even though it was my father on the floor, it seemed easy for Debby and I to be calm and methodical in helping him, fetching him a pillow and orienting his body, feeding him aspirin (in case of heart attack), and ignoring his weak shouts not to call 911. (You lose that right the minute you become the focus of a medical response). We were calm while the team was here–perhaps more talkative from stress than necessary. They left 30 minutes ago and now the stress is rolling in–not in breakers but small tidal surges. Life rarely crashes–that happens only in extraordinary circumstances. It presses and pounds, kneading away energy, washing away layers. Or, perhaps a better analogy is that I feel like I’ve been handed a large stone, large enough that I have to curl my body to hold it, and wonder if the burden will become the new normal, or that the stone will be absorbed. Forecasting, I think the reality is more that I’ll drop the stone sometime soon and without knowing it, but will often be looking over my shoulder.
Looking now out our dining room window at the play structure our kids have almost outgrown and its wavy bright yellow slide, I also think I may have other options.