It’s automagic

18 08 2008

Walking into a grocery store behind my dad not long ago, I remember laughing as he stepped on the rubber mat in front of the door and as it slid open he proclaimed with mock surprise, “It’s automagic!” From one space into the next – with nothing more than a foot fall – a door whooshes open and we’re in.  

Now here we are standing in front of another door with our full weight on the welcome mat and that door seems stuck.  This business of dying is quite tricky.  I’m getting familiar with the signs and sounds accompanying the process but it’s not over till it’s over.  I am still having a hard time realizing that it was exactly a week ago today that hospice came for the assessment interview and by this time I had meds in hand and he had oxygen.  Reading and re-reading the little blue book that tells me what this process looks like I find myself becoming impatient now because I’ve been living it for over a year.  So many times in my drive back to Michigan I’ve spent that travel time thinking of what this reality would be like.   Now I’m here and I’m ready for the next thing.  Seriously.

You’d think I had enough experience with process that I’d learned a thing or two – but apparently not. When my young family first left for Spain in 1983 there were lots of things involved in the passage.  Months of sorting, buying, wondering what we’d need there, what I should take from here – the babies were small, one just barely two years old and the other 7 months…I kept trying to imagine my life here transported to a country I knew relatively little about and imagine myself living there.  Packing up all our belongings and learning my way around phone conversations that dealt with shipping methods, customs papers, inventories, etc.  But that wasn’t the only thing I had to do to get us moved from one place to the other.

There were the dreaded good-byes.  At that point, I knew these separations could mean four years until my parents saw their grandkids again.  It was breaking my heart.  All the little things that they wouldn’t be a part of and would only live through letters…again this was pre-technology iChat, email, skype, and other instant goodies.  Farewell gatherings were exhausting as I felt like I had already stepped through the door but I didn’t fit with all the people hanging on to my ankles holding me back.  I barely had any more tears left because in my mind – I’d moved on and was living with an adreline rush of anticipation to get on to the next thing so I could get my family settled.

Looking back on all of that now – I’d say it took nothing short of a year or two really before things felt normal. What I thought it was going to be and what it turned out to be were two very different thing. It wasn’t just about getting across the Atlantic Ocean part done – it was the journey of doing it all- that made it what it was.  

So I am in this waiting space and I don’t like it much.  I’m projecting ahead and trying to be prepared – wondering how long I’ll be in this spot that seems like the pneumatics on the door quit working.  Will it be in a space when no one else in the room?  Will we all be there?  Will there be words or just mumblings from a hallucination?  Will it be sacred or ordinary?  The threshold is close enough to touch but the door won’t open.  There is no way of knowing what moment in time that is reserved for Billy’s foot fall to be the final “open sesame” – but I know that there are things for me to learn while we wait.