Last night I was thinking about last year. One year ago yesterday, my dad called me up at around 10pm. I didn't think much of it as he often called me late at night, especially when Stan was deployed. He'd call up and say, "Hey sweetie, are you awake? Do you mind if I stop by for a visit?" (My dad worked nights for 15 years, and was very much a night owl like myself.) I would almost always answer yes, and he'd reply with, "Oh good, because I'm in the driveway." We'd stay up until 2 or 3am, watching movies or talking about life and faith or all of the above. I didn't expect this call to be any different, but it was.
At 10pm the girls were tucked in bed and asleep, and Dad called. He asked if I could go to the store and get him some juice. It was an unusual request. He zipped around all over the place picking up this and that everyday. He was always able to drive, and loved visiting with strangers at the store (or anywhere else). The girls were tucked in bed, and I was a little concerned. I asked him if he was ok. He said he'd be all right, but didn't feel well and could really use some juice to help his stomach pain. I ran to the store, picked up the juice and took it to my parent's house. (My mom was an early to bed gal, and he didn't want to wake her.) When I arrived at the house he looked bad... really bad. His skin looked grey and ashy, something was not right. I asked if he needed me to take him to the hospital, but he said no. I asked again several times, and said if it got worse he'd call. I headed home a bit later with an unsettled feeling, and called my sister. She thought I should give it another try to get him to the hospital. I called back and asked dad if I could take him into the hospital. Again, he said he'd be all right.
The following day I stopped by to see him, and still thought he really should go to the hospital. Mom ran a couple of errands while we waited for a call back from the doc. We waited through a good chunk of the day when my sister (who is the tough one) forced the hand and told dad we would either take him to the hospital or call the ambulance. She was right, and made things happen. She's very talented that way. Within a few minutes we were loading dad in the car and heading to the ER.
Dad had been sick for several weeks and had been undergoing the regular battery of tests to try to figure out what was going on. He had a biopsy scheduled for the following day, so he had thought he could just wait it out. But with things taking a turn, it was into the hospital for us. In the ER with a doctor that looked like Doogie Howser, we found out that all of the fluid that hadn't been processing through his liver was infected in his abdomen. Thanks be to God we had taken him in.
Today was the day that began our wild ride that was to be our 2012. I've been contemplating the events of the year in light of the liturgical year of the Church. There are times for feasting and for fasting, for rejoicing and for mourning and this is true of our life experience. As this year of reflection upon last year begins, I am thankful for every moment and memory that I have to reflect upon.
I took this picture of my dad was we loaded up into the car to go to the Emergency Room, commencing a journey that would lead we knew not where.
"Indeed the Book of Job avowedly only answers mystery with mystery. Job is comforted with riddles; but he is comforted. Herein is indeed a type, in the sense of a prophecy, of things speaking with authority. For when he who doubts can only say 'I do not understand,' it is true that he who knows can only reply or repeat 'You do not understand.' And under that rebuke there is always a sudden hope in the heart; and the sense of something that would be worth understanding."
-G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man
All pessimism has a secret optimism for its object. All surrender of life, all denial of pleasure, all darkness, all austerity, all desolation has for its real aim this separation of something so that it may be poignantly and perfectly enjoyed. I feel grateful for the slight sprain which has introduced this mysterious and fascinating division between one of my feet and the other. The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost. In one of my feet I can feel how strong and splendid a foot is; in the other I can realize how very much otherwise it might have been. The moral of the thing is wholly exhilarating. This world and all our powers in it are fare more awful and beautiful than even we know until some accident reminds us. If you wish to perceive that limitless felicity, limit yourself if only for a moment. If you wish to realize how fearfully and wonderfully God's image is made, stand on one leg. If you want to realize the splendid vision of all visible things - wink the other eye.
G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles