I went to Houston last weekend to see my Dad in ICU. He had a large blood clot on his brain and had surgery to drain it. My Father has Alzheimer’s, so he could not afford more damage to his brain. Before surgery, he’d been doing okay. He was coherent and knew who everyone was. He could carry on a conversation and get around. He needed help with dressing and eating, but my mother was coping. She’s good at taking care of people. She’s a strong woman.
Tuesday is my Mom and Dad’s 58th wedding anniversary.
Right before they discovered the clot, he’d gotten much worse. He couldn’t walk. He’d lost control of his bladder. He was less coherent. When we learned of the blood clot, we had hoped the surgery removing it would cause improvement. At least some, anyway. It did not. He can’t sit up by himself. He can’t walk. Sometimes he’s coherent and I can understand what he says. But these times are the exception. When I first saw him last weekend, it was shocking. But I got used to his condition after a bit, and was grateful to be able to be with him.
Those few coherent moments brought joy.
We wanted to move him to an intensive rehab facility in hopes of his regaining some function. Because he cannot participate in rehab for three solid hours a day, Medicare won’t pay for it. The facility would take him. They said they could help him. But it’s very expensive. Just the co-pay is $4000 a month. So yesterday we moved him to a skilled nursing facility (nursing home). The hope is he will improve enough that he can go home (with home health care). I’m trying to stay positive, but find myself thinking he won’t be with us much longer.
Until this year, I’ve not faced my own mortality head on. I’ve not had to think much about death. I’ve not had to ponder the fact that our time on this planet is finite.
Years ago I’d eschewed my Catholic upbringing and decided there is no god. There can’t be. I read a lot of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. I’d decided that no thinking person could honestly believe in god. My father was a strident agnostic. Although that seems a bit of an oxymoron. How strident can you be when you won’t get off the fence? A year or so ago, I asked him about it. He recanted. He said he was never an agnostic. He reminded me he went to church with my mother all the time. I thought he was merely placating her. I didn’t know he’d had a shift in his thinking. I didn’t like it. It made me wonder what I was missing.
This past week, I’ve found myself wishing I had faith. Yes, the old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes rings true. I want there to be more than our time on earth. I don’t want this to be all there is. I want it to mean more than you live, and then you die.
I envy people who have faith. Death wouldn’t be so difficult with it. Which I know is the paramount benefit of being a believer. But how can you fake it?