Quietly, I wait and watch as the nurses prep him for the outpatient care visit. We are in a private room sectioned off from a medical lounge of recliner chairs. This room smells clinical but feels sacred. My father is connected to monitors, intravenous drips and pressure cuffs and I am attached to the mystery of how one arrives at this cul-de-sac of life. The nurse said she needed to observe him closely for the first 15 mins then would come in to check on him periodically. Dad – was gracious (as always) and cute in his colorfully decorated, Korean War veteran hat. He looked the part of a soldier – a fighter – a trooper – a protector and all things that make a father victorious in the eyes of his daughter. My Dad – a father to many including my son, Dylan, has many titles that include a clergyman, motivator, coach, mentor and community leader and he is now looking to us, his children, to protect & serve the honor of his legacy by caring for he and my mother’s health & well-being as both of their bodies together reveal the “perfect storm” – unleashing harsh calamities followed by sunshine.
He sleeps through most of the 6-hr process…I watch as he sleeps – every now & then he wakes for juice or something yummy to snack on. I understand that it’s not promised to us all to grow old or to be loved through the process. We are not promised to be born into love or cared for during our growing pains. Wherever we find ourselves, there we must begin. This is when I know that life is calling me – to embrace what matters – to be more compassionate and to love stronger. So, I sit. I observe his breath. I wait for his reassuring smile and I am reminded of all that he gave me and all he continues to give with each glance or when he holds my one hand with his two hands. Simple but powerful exchanges of what we are to each other and who he is to my family. He is the only father my son has known – not just a grandfather but Dylan’s “Poppa”, playmate, confidant and great supporter to all of our hits and misses.
There are many stories my Dad has not shared that are hidden in his eyes. I can tell when he is traveling in his thoughts to distant places. This what I call the “reflective stare” that seems to creep into our days and shave the minutes off the hours of our time together. The eye gates separate us – yet, pulls me in closer with curiosity to know more about the man, his experiences and what he may have endured before he became my Dad. What he is missing most these days…he tells me it’s “driving” – going places – his independence but importantly taking care of us – his family. Growing up, I don’t ever recall a time when my mother was driving and he was on the passenger side in the car. Now, he rides on the ‘other’ side but not without a point of view.
The medical visit ends and we make our walk out to the car to make our way back home through the winding canyons of Southern California. He softly instructs me that we should not go the same way we came by suggesting that our new way will offer less curves and traffic obstructions. I agree. This is one lesson he has always taught me – be present but reflect and be willing to make adjustments along the way. Not easy but necessary if you want to go places in life. Inspired by this thought, I made an adjustment in my commute home – a new route and it shaved minutes off the hours on the road – giving me my time back. Now, with the extra time afforded to me – I sit, relax and reflect about the day’s events and the possibilities of tomorrow. Next, I think about what I will prepare or pick-up for dinner. God Bless my Dad & all fathers who gently guide their children and/or others – this Father’s Day and forever more.
On my flight home from Aruba (work/vacation), I reflected on the next place – next steps and where I am going. I knew that I was going home and returning to the workplace but there was something deeper inside of me – a longing for – a place – I have yet to discover. My initial thought was… I needed more “off-time” from work/family to research, discover and then, explore this new destination. However, this is not an option in my world. Over the past few years, I have spent so much time researching – planning & preparing that I delayed the journey through a form of disguised “resistance”. Towards the end of my vacation, this became more evident to me while reading Steven Pressfield’s “Do The Work”. The words on the page took my hand and lead me to a cliff and then said, “jump”. Yeah, it really felt that way to me – like the next place for me was high off the ground and required me to test my wing span while jumping into my destiny (not to my demise) – lol. I am a professional encourager, promoter, and venture capitalist to all things I believe in – but, usually not to self. I believe in me at a distance – when it feels safe enough to stumble or fall (behind closed doors) or when the only critic in the room – is me. I have post-it’s all over my bedroom wall with business plans & creative timelines and there are notes to self that fall out of cubby holes & filing cabinets filled with labeled folders of storylines, outlines, character descriptions, query letters, book proposals. This sort of feels like a confessional…well, it is – I must expose what I am hiding to get to the truth. I am home now – back to work (9-5) – still feeling a sense of urgency to go to the next place. Yet, as I write this blog, this very moment – I hear a world – not yet traveled – inside of me. This world does not require me to pack my bags or plan an itinerary of “things to do” and “places to visit” – it simply asks me to share – to give from within and to begin to color-in the biggest canvas yet – my life. I have arrived at a place where I belong and among those who have been waiting for my action to match my passion. Motherhood has taught me how to nurture others but life’s challenges are teaching me how to love and trust myself. So, today – I publish this blog & I jump. I’m not looking back (less reflection) – just looking ahead & within. Okay, so here it goes… stroke #1 on my “life” canvas – meet Donna Lou – the writer – every day in a sacred place.
He (my son – Dylan) has moved from the car seat in the back row to the passenger side of my SUV and will soon sit in my seat, with my keys in his hand and I will be on the ‘other’ side. Dylan will be in the driver seat with a permit to drive on the road. What does this mean? I guess – I’m not in control of it all. Well, this isn’t ground breaking news but it breaks my heart to think of the distance (choices, opportunities, growth) that can separate us from those we love.
Sometimes we grow apart, by choice or out of necessity or simply because of lack. We sometimes fail to accept that people we love need to grow and evolve. Maybe, I’m guilty of all the above or just fumbling my way through this maze of parenting.
Either way, I can see that I need to make some personal adjustments. When I complete these internal tunes-up, I think I’ll be less stressed and possibly those around me will breathe easier because they will get the permit to be free – to be themselves – without unnecessary interference or distractions on the road – in the form of my “mama/Donna knows best” opinions. Well, I may interfere a little bit but in the form of “speed bumps” or “love taps” from time to time. Ya know? I mean, I gotta be free to be me too – right?
All jokes aside…this is less about just letting go, trusting others or acceptance. This is more about reaching deep inside myself to pull out the resistance that is seated at the doorway to my to faith. Resistance distracts me. My distractions and fears are feeders to my loved ones, friends and community – I must grant freedom within…Then, I have to pass it on. If this means, the keys to my car or or sitting on the ‘other’ (passenger) side – cool – I’ll survive – maybe, with a few less hairs on my head or a few rashes of the side of my face (after riding with my teenage son) – but it’s better than me – driving while under the influence of “fear”.
We travel to the Bay Area – again…this time for good news! Last time – it was surgery. I pray Dylan is healing and that his life will resume with the plans he had back in December before his ankle injury. I cannot imagine what he has gone through emotionally and my heart hurts for every pain he has experienced physically. This injury has changed our lives significantly. Our trip this week is a quick turnaround – a one day in and out visit. We leave and come right back but I wonder…will we be the same when we return? Can we accept the findings from the x-ray…even, if the healing has begun – can we accept the work ahead to heal completely and will we trust the body the way we did before? Coming home will be easy but finding our way back to our dreams, our imagination and our faith will be the question of the day – how? I trust that God’s significant direction in our lives will lead us to an undiscovered road. I pray we not only find our way back but that we find a miracle in the process. Maybe, a piece of ourselves – lost along the way or possibly – untapped strength nestled in the heartache of setbacks -but even greater – an outlook on life that beckons us to run past fear, find a new path and enjoy the journey.
On the heels of a wonderful 43rd birthday celebration, I seem to feel this sense of urgency. Dylan wrote me a poem that touched the depth of my heart. The theme for this occasion was “love.” I feel loved. So much love in my life that I have to produce or it will be in vain…I must extend the love. How? I gotta create. I have to give back.
There is a part of me reaching even when I am sitting still…my yearning for something more is so deep – that it feels distant and set apart from me. Yet, I have a sense that is it the higher part of my being. I keep thinking I gotta jump higher than the next person or acquire some new skill set or possibly recreate myself but really…that’s not it. I hear a whisper of reason that is almost to simple to believe…it tells me to just reach out and get it. Thanks to all my family & my loved ones who inspire my 43inch vertical. I promise…I will.
Remembering a time when I would navigate my days and would feel empowered by my choices based on things that needed to be done. No, not necessarily the time before parenthood but the time when I could start out the day reading the newspaper in the am with a cup of joe or latte. I’d return to my home office and handle my business then, pick-up my son from school with something yummy to eat in the car. We both appreciated the ‘comfort zone.’ That warm space that allows you to determine how fast you go and when to pause for thought but I struggle to find this comfy place now that I work a 40 hr, 9-5, M-F, Corp gig that pushes me into a grey space. No longer do I flow through my thoughts, I just push and move. Up and Down. Didn’t know I was missing my flow until I caught one stream of consciousness in New Orleans while visiting in mid-August.
I sit here now – in LA wondering how to create moments. The season is changing and our time remains scattered among the days. School begins. I want to park, jump out and walk with Dylan into the corridors – like a do over. I connected with the inner joy of the people in Nawlins’ – my kinda folk. They live above the ground and seem to find a way to touch the sky through music and dance – not through just high notes but swingin in the lows and pushin thru. I want to take flight too – not run or walk but soar above the concerns and fears. I need an aerial view to see the moment for what it is, recognize the straight from the crooked and sleep peacefully through the night.
I spent too much time trying to run away from myself and from those who loved me – in pursuit of what I thought was better. Looking back, I see what was missing – internal belief…in spite of what the world looks like around us and yet… still being able to size up goals with dreams while conquering the voice of fear & resistance. This is what I want for my son and every young person. My parents desired the same for me. So here I am at the intersection…waiting, listening, praying and observing. As a mother, I am at a red light but I believe that what it on the other side will increase our expectations & vision. This ruby red forced stop – feels uncomfortable but it is part of the road.
I wait and I trust – that we are moving, changing and growing.
Green Light – Go!