Saturday, January 08, 2005

A New Year

They say how you spend New Year's Day is an indicator of how the rest of your year will go. I hope, for my sanity, that the old saw is wrong.

A little background that will help explain my last post. On Christmas morning, while getting ready to drive to Canada to visit my wife's parents I walked into our bedroom and saw my pajamas were still on the floor. So as I do every morning, I bent down to pick them up. The next thing I know I'm on my knees in absolute agony: my back is in complete spasm.

I don't have a "bad back," and I'm not really familiar with back pain. I have to tell you, I'm not a big fan. It took me 15 minutes to make my way from the floor - right next to the bed - to the bed. I spent the rest of the day right there. There was no food in the house - we'd planned on being away. Our "Christmas dinner" was a little ham and cheese; no turkey, no roast beef, no wine, no desert.

My father-in-law has been sick for over two years with a form of liver cancer. Both my wife and I were pretty sure that this would be the last Christmas they'd have together. And we were missing it.

When I was barely able to move around the next day, we bundled ourselves into the car for the four hour drive to Canada. I couldn't drive and every bump was painful; fortunately the weather cooperated and we made the trip in good time.

What we found when we arrived was not good. My wife's dad was shrunken away to nearly nothing and instead of celebrating and opening presents, we had to get him to the hospital. The prognosis was not good and we were told that it was only a matter of days we had left with him. So we began a vigil - around the clock, with the help of family, we made sure that he was never alone. We talked to him even after he lost consciousness and held his hands. On January the 6th he was finally released from his suffering.

You can see why I hope that the old saying about new years is wrong. I'm not sure that we could hold up to a full year of what we've already gone through in the last week of the old and the first week of the new year.

As we left the hospital on the day my father-in-law died, it was snowing and sleeting. My wife and I had to brush and scrape our car and I told her that this was nature's way of letting us know that the world keeps going and that we have to keep doing all the things we'd done before - that we had to keep living.

That's the message I want to take away from this experience. That's the message I want to send to all of my friends and family who come to read this. Life goes on and we have a choice about how we live it. I plan on making the choice to live it fully and joyfully. I hope you will to.

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