You learn a lot about yourself in a hospital, like what the end of life looks like, how to exist in a space where death is breathable, what comforting the sick and injured feels like, and how to accept that this life, like everything in it, is fleeting.
My father-in-law had no idea what he was getting into when a caramel girl, who loves books, art, and the insides of people decided to marry his son. It's not like I knew I was gaining a father who loves cookies, spending time at his car shop, having the backs of his oldest friends, and a man who would not leave Cleveland, Ohio if you told him the world was ending exactly where his house sits. We got each other. A decent exchange.
This past weekend, my father-in-law of one year and ten months lay still in a hospital bed at the Cleveland Clinic. He looked tired. I guess triple heart bypass surgery will do that to you. All I could do is stare at the man my husband loves with all his heart. The room was dark, except for the dancing medical machine lights. I sat in a chair next to his bed. He heard us come in and said, ''oh, I'm not sleep" as if he wanted and needed the company.
While sitting in that chair across from my father, I thought about his life, the many choices that led to this exact moment. This distress was what he had hoped to avoid after watching and caring for his mother. She died of a health-related disease.
My mother spoke of generational curses often growing up, and at this time the bad omen of diabetes has my older brother and older sister in its grip. We do unspeakable things to ourselves.
As I do to my husband nights when I can not sleep, in the dark, I rubbed the back of dad-in-law's head and whispered you're okay, its okay, you're safe now.
What I learned that day in the hospital is that family can comfort you in your darkest moments. They have the ability to whisper in your ear -- you're okay, its okay, you're safe now.
In those moments, you and I remember what we have in each other; we remember that in order not to labor in vain we need mission and purpose, we remember that what we have given, we will receive.