Wednesday, November 3, 2010

11/4/10 - "The Introduction of a Lifetime"

Sorry for the delay between posts, several things took place this past week and I was not near an electric plug to power-up or charge my laptop during the weekend. But the ‘down period’ gave me time to think and consider several things, including the “Introduction of a Lifetime.” I’ve had several friends and relations lose family members to disease and age. The one thing that I’ve heard over and over is, “I’ll work -”, or “I’ll take care of this or that – ,“

“It will keep my mind off of things.”

I found out this past weekend that this is indeed possible. My kids had soccer games to play and I was away from the house attending a tournament, and the other weekend day I was singing with a male choir that I take part in. After our performance we had a 4-hour practice (we’ve been preparing Christmas music). I was tired in the evening, Saturday and Sunday. Along with feeling tired I realized that I was indeed distracted from the immediate concerns of my Dad’s illness.

I slept like a baby both nights and had a terrible headache Sunday and Monday morning (probably from a lack of sleep over the past several weeks).

While watching the kids play soccer I thought about the kids, soccer and realized it all had something to do with cancer.

“Cancer?” you say, “How can kids playing soccer be connected to cancer?”
Well, they were playing in a league where winning is not the emphasis. Instead learning new skills, exercise and teamwork are key considerations. But I’ve learned over the years that the kids always know who ‘outscored’ the other and who has a better win/loss record. Leagues with an emphasis on these things were probably developed by adults who were trying to deemphasize bullying, how to prevent hurting the feelings of younger kids, maybe maintaining control over the interactions of children and emphasizing morals and cultural norms (when  I was a kid you won or loss a game, and you lived with it; but I digress).

I watched both teams run up and down the field, cheering each other on while calling for teammates to make the winning goal. There was no cursing or name calling, but in the end everyone knew who ‘won’. While thinking about this my mind started to wander and my demon stranger showed up again.

He just lightly tapped me on the shoulder, which immediately caused me to think about my Dad, along with my kids and how I will have to break the news of my Dad’s cancer and the prognosis with them.

So, I have a new job – introduce my kids to personal loss, pain and death.

Aw, the purity of children; things are clean and safe for them. Their minds have not been polluted with the world adults have created or corrupted by grown-up wants and desires. They do not recognize or understand the complexity of life until it comes for them, like when a loved one dies. Another way to think about it - children are not born with hate, our world develops that trait; the finest example to mimic – adults.

They don’t consider a swimming pool dangerous, and only “bad looking people” are “bad”. Children don’t recognize danger until something happens, or a parent has to educate them about what is ‘right or wrong’, and what is dangerous.

How many times have you read about an adult sports figure that is great? This sports person can do no wrong when playing. She or he can run faster, hit the ball further, or jump higher. The person is considered to be the ‘elite of the elite’ until someone discovers that steroids or cheating in some other fashion has been taking place. The sports star goes before the judge or court, begs forgiveness, and maybe sheds an apologetic tear.

What do family, friends, journalists and sports-casters say when reporting the personal failure of the star? “I remember when he was young and played for the love of the game.” It was the purity phase of his development, the game mattered.

So, my demon stranger did it again. With little effort he managed to reach into my chest and pull out the nerve, the one lone nerve that has not healed. He pulled the nerve so tight the pain could not be ignored; my eyes moistened up and tears began to roll down my face, again. I watched as the kids ran down the field, screaming at one another in fun and with determination. Pure in heart (pretty much) and not aware of the imminent figure of death standing in the background; death working its tricks and playing with my heart as the end draws near.

The day is coming when I will be forced to conduct the ‘Introduction of a Lifetime’, the day I will introduce death and its complexities to my children.

How will I do this? How will I face my children and offer comfort when I want to be “the little boy” who receives comfort from parents who once protected me?  How will I say the words that will shatter purity and tranquility of a young heart, while deep-down I want to go back and exist in the days when I was pure of heart, lived in tranquility, and life was beautiful?


sridharaa said...

Hi Andy,
A thoughtful post.. And difficult questions indeed. My belief time teaches all things as appropriate.

brandy said...

a very true, thoughtful, wise post. you do face a difficult challenge with your kids. but as sridharaa said "time teaches all things as appropriate" makes me wonder how in my 19 years of life i learned all i did? was it my parents? my friends? time? really makes you stop and thing, and makes you appreciate being young. i wish i could go back sometimes and im only 19. thanks for the great post.

life in a pink fibro said...

Cancer took my husband's father five years ago. it was an incredibly difficult time, and explaining it all to our very young son was not easy. Children are incredible though. They can be an amazing solace at a time like this. Wise beyond their years and yet vulnerable too. When the time comes, you will know what to do.

The English Sisters said...

Hi Andy,
we lost our father to cancer who died with lung cancer, but the one thing we learnt along the way was to live everyday and not die a little every day. When someone close in the family has a serious illness every thought seems to revolve around that. Through experience we realised that we were not living everyday but concentrating on the worry everyday and that was not good. One day the doctor told us to take him home and to prepare for death luckily our father did not understand and my sister told him that his treatment was over and that he could go home, We still remember the smile on his face to this day and he came home had a cup of tea a good night's rest relieved that it was all over. We said the cancer is still there but since you are 78 it won't threaten you. Guess what the next day he was doing the gardening and enjoying the small pleasures in life. He went on to live for an extra 3 years we learnt that with his illness we too had put our own lives on hold by worrying all the time. We stopped doing it and started to live again. None of us know when we are going to die but we all know that we are alive now and that's what's important, as long as one is alive LIVE, LOVE, GIVE...Enjoy
Bye, bye,
love from
The English Sisters

Andy Bryant said...

Sitaraman my friend, you are the thinker and correct. There are questions and many that possibly will never have an answer understood by Man. Thank you for the encouragement. Take care!

Andy Bryant said...

Brandy, I always look forward to our tweets and comments. You have a lot to consider and face in the future and I am proud of you for pursuing your education while learning life's lessons. Thank you for reading my post and contemplating the 'what ifs' of life while taking care of yourself. Thank you for the post.

Andy Bryant said...

Allison, thanks for sharing your insight into what I know was a painful experience, maybe even when you typed the comments.I feel pain for your reading my post, but I do appreciate that you shared your thoughts with me. Although its been 5 years, your family has not forgotten and now I'm thinking about him too. ;-)

Andy Bryant said...

My dear English Sisters, what a nice, insightful post. So, no one knows when they will die but we all know that we're alive now!?! Excellent words of wisdom, thank you. I will be passing this on to the family. ;-)

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