Posted: Wednesday, July 4, 2012 11:39:35 AM
It is more customary to isolate and analyze a specific period in one’s life after the period has passed. But there is something to say for what one thinks and feels during the period. We cannot misjudge our feelings in the midst of feeling them.
“But I won’t rot, I won’t rot. Not this mind and not this heart, I won’t rot.” This line, from Mumford and Sons’ “After the Storm” (from the album Sigh no More) is my prayer for my father. He won’t rot. Not his mind, not his heart. He cannot rot.
A therapist, after learning of my father’s duel diagnoses of mental illnesses, told my mother that a brain tumor has a better prognosis. He would be better cold on his deathbed than going through life blinded and burned.
“And I will die alone, and be left there. Well I guess I’ll just go home, or God knows where. Because death is just so full, and man so small. I’m scared of what’s behind, and what’s before.”
What’s behind is twenty years. Twenty years of my father and mother more in love with each other than seems possible outside of fiction. Twenty years of my father writing love songs far past the realm of love songs. Twenty years of my mother running outside to greet him and twenty years of him carrying her back.
But twenty years of turmoil. Twenty years of my father recoiling from his wife’s affections. Twenty years of not knowing if a word will incite laughter or wrath or ice. Twenty years of begging God that this is the last time: that tonight Daddy will come home.
Before is a double diagnosis: bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. This helps. At least it makes sense. But it will never go away. Medicine and therapy can help, but the disorders will always be there.
No one understands. My mother should be her own woman. She doesn’t have to take this. They say they understand, but they don’t. They hate seeing her hurt. So do I. Fervently, fervently I hate it.
But she sees my father. She sees the strong arm beyond the crippled stub. She sees the deep, rich eye beneath the cloudy haze. “I saw exactly what was true, but oh no more. That’s why I hold. That’s why I hold with all I have. That’s why I hold.”
Not his mind. Not his heart. “And I look up. On my knees and out of luck, I look up.” Please bring him home. Please make us his home. Death is empty. Death is nothing. And though we are small You, Dear God, are great. And that’s why we hold. That’s why we hold with all we have.
“But there will come a time you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears. Get over your hill and see, what you’ll find there. With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”