A silent confetti of snow falls delicately from the night sky as potent winds slice through the dark, a bitter and cold blade sweeping endlessly from the north.

Sleet mixes in from time to time and creates a harsh refrain that defies the beauty of this winter storm.

Yet it is the cold, the brutal mother of winter suffering, that reminds me of what we face…

After visiting the family farm Saturday and seeing Mom and Dad after what seemed like forever, I returned home with a heart weighed to the ground with concern, with worry, with an inescapable truth from which I still try to escape.

My father’s health continues spiraling downward around the drain of oblivion, that dark nest in which each of us must birth our last days.

I know Mom notices as well as I, but still I wonder if Dad thinks it goes without seeing when he grips his chest in pain, when the wince of a thousand horrible lashes washes over his face and makes it something terrible, something frightening, something regrettable.

Still the sleet falls, now a torment of glass felled upon a concrete wasteland while beautiful flakes of gigantic snow fill the onslaught’s every empty space…

After the tumor saga earlier this year, his regular checkups remain good in that regard.  His doctor assures him everything looks fine and they feel confident they removed all of the dangerous tissue invading his head.

More checkups, though, many more.  That is his future.  Such tumors return in almost all cases, and they remain dangerous, readily invading the brain at a moment’s notice and causing Alzheimer’s-like suffering along the way.  Only quicker.  Much, much quicker.

And on the heels of that terrible path resting ahead comes the diabetes, the newest invader to torment him when anguish has already inflicted so much, has already given so little of life’s sweetness in trade for the pain.  The endless pain…

Now a veritable thunderstorm of ice falls outside, the rat-tat-tat of machine-gun fire from the sky hitting the world with suddenness.  Suddenness…

Mom said tonight:

Your father isn’t doing very well. His sugar was over 300 last night and he has chest pains a lot. I am concerned to say the least.

250 is the blood sugar level at which the utmost concern must be shown.  But 300?  300?

And the chest pains…  Anyone familiar with diabetes knows the shadowy aura enshrouding that problem no matter his other ailments.

I noticed.  Mom noticed, too, when he grasped at his heart with the terror of someone shot with a gun, the same pain flowing all too easily over his form, echoing loudly on his face as we watched.

The sleet finally overcomes the snow, and that despite the large flakes dancing in the air and drifting effortlessly to the ground.  Autumn has few leaves to hold back the sound of this icy attack.  Winter’s chill makes it all the more noticeable.

One can stack mounds of firewood near the door and still be unprepared for this season.  One can overflow the bed with blankets and comforters while still fighting a chill at night.  One can sit inside the warmth of a home and still battle the mental assurance that, despite the roaring fire and the layers of clothing, we are still cold.  Still cold…

So goes standing in this time and place while looking toward a vista offering few alternatives and little hope.

I know Dad will not read this; I know Mom will.

I can’t refuse the truth that waltzes in every direction I look: The time for preparing has come even if we wish for something else entirely; the road ahead will be painful even if we refuse to accept it as the only path we can travel; and the will of a lifetime now seems destined to pass as we gaze on in utter disbelief.

The snow falls heavily now, leviathan white drifting to and fro on gusts of denial made from arctic angst.

While a few moments ago heavy sleet occupied the vast nothingness filling whatever space could be filled, and the sound of the terrible attack refused to be squelched by even the storm’s fury, now only the silence remains.  The sky rests in the embrace of the snow only, the flitting of hapless flakes in the ether of shadow.  I lose myself in the moment.

What tomorrow brings will forever be nothing more than the hope of days unfulfilled and the terror of fears unrealized.  What tomorrow brings will always be nothing less than the very thing we hope we have prepared for…

2 thoughts on “Preparing”

  1. Jason, your words take me back and tell my own story of the years of grief and worry I faced before my Mom left us in 06. Now, I travel the interstates too infrequently to visit my Dad who is one with his bed in a nursing home. Only to visit for just a little while…

    May I hug you? I know the pain you feel.


  2. Thank you, Mary. Virtual though it might be, your hug means the world to me.

    I’m trying so hard to sacrifice all that can be sacrificed so I don’t miss these moments, these final thoughts on a tapestry of life that seems destined to flutter in the breeze for too short a time.

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