Life has stopped yet continued to move on all at the same time.
This isn’t a story about how I’m living my best life, enjoying quarantine and getting a ton of stuff done. You have no idea how much I wish I was bored. Instead, this is a post to remind you that while a lot of the world is on hold, life is still happening despite a worldwide pandemic.
For months, the universe, signs, or God (which is who I credit this all to) had been giving me every indication that I needed a shift in my life. It was impossible to ignore. I let go of control and let God take me where He needed me. My cup was empty and at the beginning of March I made the trek from Seattle back home to Michigan to replenish.
Since I was driving back from (at the time) one of the country’s COVID-19 hot spots, I decided I’d wait to reunite with all of my friends to ensure I wasn’t sick.
But not even a week after I got back, my dad, who lives alone, wasn’t answering his phone. This was unlike him so I decided to stop by. When he opened the door, the first thing I saw was the right side of his face drooping. My dad was having a stroke.
We quickly got in the car and headed to the ER. My mind was racing. Was this really happening? I was distracted as I drove and realized it when a guy cut me off and flipped us the bird. If only he’d known how his delay was so insignificant compared to what life was about to deal our family.
Once we got to the ER parking lot we were met by a police officer and a nurse in full protective gear. I explained this wasn’t COVID-19 related and they allowed me to drive to the entrance. There, another officer put my dad in a wheelchair and brought him inside. I wasn’t able to see my dad for almost a week after that.
I felt helpless. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t be next to him. I couldn’t be in the same room or even the same floor. The closest I got was the hospital lobby. Doctors had asked if I’d bring his glasses. I also brought a picture of us he’d had on his nightstand. I never wanted him to question why I wasn’t there. And luckily, he didn’t.
Dad remembers everything up until he had the stroke. He understood he wasn’t allowed visitors because of COVID-19. What he didn’t know was what happened to him.
The biggest setback my father has remains with his cognition. Physically he’ll be ok. But mentally I wonder if he’ll ever be able to fully recover and if he does, it’s going to take months if not longer.
I’ve taken on a new job title. Caregiver.
There was no doubt I was going to take care of my dad. Not only because there was no one else to do it (he’s single and my sister still has her job in Seattle) but because that’s what our family does. Despite my cup being empty, I was going to lean on Him to give me strength.
I’d had a vulnerable conversation with one of my nearest and dearest. A friend whose Faith has brought him through so many highs and lows. And during our conversation, he reminded me a couple of things. 1) That while things that are happening might not be our fault, they are our problem. And 2) that sometimes you have to be selfless in order to be selfish. There will come a time where I can be selfish but now wasn’t it.
As I hung up the phone, I got out of the car to pick up my dad from the rehab facility. In the windows, patients had put up signs of encouragement for the medical staff.
No one, absolutely no one, will convince me that this wasn’t a literal sign from God and confirmation that He had listened to our conversation.
Dad’s been home for exactly one week. We’re hoping he’ll be able to regain his ability to live the independent life he had before but I’m cautiously optimistic. What’s the saying? Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
So what does that mean for me and my future? Who knows. Everything is on hold. As is the rest of the world. In the meantime, we’re going to keep taking it day-by-day here. And while I don’t wish a pandemic or COVID-19 on anyone, I can appreciate that at least the world is also pausing like I am. We’re forced to reevaluate and reassess. To test ourselves, our patience, our drive, tenacity and Faith.
So forgive me for being MIA. Life happened. And for the first time in months, I can admit, 100%, that I have no control and that I am not worried about how it’ll all turn out because, like my dad always says, “Oλα θα πάνε καλά.” Everything will be ok.