Monday, May 28, 2012

A Better Place

The events of the first few days of Brennis’ hospitalization seemed to happen so quickly it was hard to process them as they were happening. It was as if we had been plucked out of our lives and placed into someone else’s life temporarily. It was like characters from your favorite sitcom showing up on a medical drama. We were fish out of water. We were terrified.

The first day Brennis was admitted I ran back to work and the house to tell people what was going on and to collect some things for him. When I was at the gallery he called me to tell me that the doctor had just told him he had definately had a heart attack. My heart sank….not just because of the news but because he was alone when he heard it. I jumped in the car and raced back to the hospital to be with him. I promised I would stay with him as long as he wanted me to be there. From then on I was with him the whole time except for about an hour a day when I would go home to shower pet the dog and check emails at work. I didn’t want him to be alone again if he heard bad news….and I wanted him to know that I was there. Whenever he drifted off to sleep the first thing he did when he woke up was to look over at the chair next to his bed to see if I was in it. I made it a point to be in that chair as much as I could.

There is something very jarring about being removed so abruptly from your familiar surroundings and placed someplace else….somewhere you’ve never been before. There is, however, also something very energizing about it. Removed from all of the things you know and trust you have to learn how to function in a different way….and you have to be conscious about what you are doing more often. Do don’t just mindlessly go down the stairs in the morning and make coffee like it was a factory job… have to be active in your life and it makes you more aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it and what you really find important.

At the same time you are really forced to make the decision about what your priorities are. I decided very early on that I wanted to be with Brennis at the hospital for a variety of reasons. I am very fortunate it turns out because I own my own business and I had a huge, generous support system that was willing to keep the gallery running while I was with Brennis. What I knew very early, however, is that even without that support system I could have cared less about the gallery during that time. If the gallery had to close I would have been fine with that. Brennis being alright was the only thing that mattered. If there was no business when this was over we would start over again. We had done it before and it we could do it again. It was not the least bit important to me. I was exactly where I needed to be right then. I know there are a lot of people who don’t have that luxury and who cannot take that kind of time from their jobs. They are (and I was) making conscious choices every moment to determine what their new priorities are. What is really important? Do I choose the person I love or do I choose a promise I made? What is a real sacrifice and what is really worth making a sacrifice?

Being in a new world made me think like a new person. Now, almost a year later, I find myself often thinking like the old person. I try to remember what that new person wanted and it’s not difficult to remember….but it is awfully difficult to be him again. The world I was plucked out of almost a year ago continuted without me for a while unchanged. When I was put back into my place it was me who had changed and I wanted to tell everyone about what it was like being in a different place but I didn’t think they would believe me. I felt like Dorothy returning to Kansas from The Emerald City. As a matter of fact I also felt smarter, more courageous and more loving than I was before. Could it be that I had been over the rainbow?

Before Dorothy returned home to Kansas, Glenda told her the secret to the power to return home: “You’ve always had the power, my dear. You’ve had it all along”. Returning home for me wasn’t such a challenge. Figuring out how to bring some Oz to my home is my real desire….and every day I think I am getting closer. Often these huge life shifts are caused by events over which we have no control….a death in the family, loss of a job, a health crisis. It forces us to “take stock” and to re-prioritize our priorities. In the thick of that process we are often unconscious about the fact that we are living in a different world…sometimes it is actually a different place (a hospital, a new city) and sometimes it’s just a radically different frame of mind. Regardless, we are transported and most times to a place that brings us wisdom, courage and a full heart. Returning to that place within the context of our daily lives really is not so difficult. Turns out we have had the power all along.

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