Thursday, September 3, 2009

By the bedside

Since earlier this year, my mother has been fighting the good fight against breast cancer. With the apparent success of her chemo treatments, she underwent surgery today to remove the platinum marker pins, previously affected lymph nodes, and the tissue around the now vanished tumors. I went and visited her in the hospital today, a few hours after she came out of surgery and was moved from the recovery room to the room where she'll probably spend the next 48 hours sleeping and recuperating before heading home for several days of quiet time.

It feels like the last two years have involved a lot of sitting by bedsides, most often with my grandmother as she weakened, then faded, and finally passed away on my 40th birthday in April. There was also time spent with my father following his stroke. And most recently, my mother's fight has loomed in the background since February even as she was there at every step for my grandmother and enthusiastically for us as we've moved along our adoption journey. At the same time, we've all been there for dad and for mom, their family and friends. In every case though, the passage of time steadily etches its way deeper on our faces and in each of our lives.

It's struck me that our journey toward desire for a daughter or son...has been in some small part with an eye toward that future in my own life, a desire to answer the question "who will be by the bedside when my wife and I grow older?" There's a certain amount of selfishness inherent in such a thought, a sense that it is all about me but in truth, that's not why I'm doing this, not why I'm so giddy about the thought of adoption, about being a parent, about teaching and learning and sharing so very very much.

Nevertheless, I'll admit to a certain amount of fear of being alone when I'm older or of leaving my wife alone. I saw my parents and their siblings caring for their parents. I see me and my siblings there for my parents now (though thankfully I'm a child of the freelovin' 60s so my parents are still on the youngish side compared to my friends' parents). And in the face of the march of time, the thought of a child or grandchildren to visit us and brighten our days 40 or 50 years down the road is a comforting one, a reassuring benefit to what I expect will be an amazing adventure. Do other parents feel like this or am I just tired and a bit maudlin right at the moment?

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