Monday, April 26, 2010

Dear Dad,

It's hard to believe that here I am in Russia again for work. This morning I woke up and I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I have been here twice now while you have been immobilized in a nursing home.

... 'Nursing home'... I never thought I could connect that phrase to your name when I am at this age. I don't think I will ever get used to it. Maybe I am not supposed to.

When I travel for work, I have a chance to get perspective on what our family has gone through in the past nine months. It actually stings more to be further from the flames than when I am next to your bed at home.

One of my close friends is living with me who just recently lost her mom to cancer. We talk a lot about how when something goes wrong with a parent at our age, we are left without the use of a right arm. We both feel the need to hold each other up, although my situation is different from hers. I still have you here, although in an altered form. You are here to listen to me and I can 'hear' you when I look into your eyes.

Sometimes I feel closer to you when I am away. My memory expands and I remember what life was like before cancer came into our lives last June. The memories of walks around Calhoun, chats over coffee, and philosophizing during our 'S'mores Club' become more vivid. The memories are more tangible because they have room to expand away from the day-to-day terrors of keeping you going strong.

When I woke up today, the need to call you and hear your voice was so strong that I was paralyzed much like how you are physically. Here in Russia I felt so alone, like I was the last person in a tribe trying to hold on to traditions of the past. If I could have called you at 6:30 AM, it would have been 9:30 PM your time. If it were the olden days, maybe you would have just finished up a late-night lawn mowing session. Maybe you would have been heating up a Lean Cuisine in the microwave and looking forward to watching David Letterman. Maybe you and mom would have been on your way to a two-dollar movie at the Hopkins Theater. Maybe you would have said,

"Hey, RUNSK! I just cannot believe how clear you sound on the cell phone. The Mom and I are on our way to see a flick but we'd love to chat when it's over. Can we catch you after you eat breakfast?"

I would have been excited that you were taking mom to a movie (getting Cokes and popcorn, of course) and then mom would have gotten on the phone and diligently asked if I've been sleeping and if I am doing a good job interviewing. Mom would have asked if the food here is OK and she would have reminded me to be safe in the streets of St. Petersburg.

I would have hung up the phone, feeling comforted by hearing two happy, healthy parents, and I would have gone out into the day to make you proud.

Dad. I don't know how to find the place where I can reach acceptance with this. I refuse it. This fate was not made for you, my daddy. You continue to be so brave and strong. Your grace at facing this most unusual 'locked in' situation has been beyond inspiring. In the past, you sometimes got grumpy and went for drives around the lake. Sometimes I got to ride with you. You are, hands down, my favorite person to talk to out of anyone I have ever met. You are so deeply intelligent about the human condition, partly from battling your own trials and tribulations. This is why I so, so badly just want to hear your voice. I need your wisdom, your humor, your creativity.

On the days when you hurt, on the days when it is just too much, on the days when I look into your eyes and I know you are in there but you just can't sacrifice the energy to crack a crinkly-eyed smile, I am terrified at how bad it must be. This is because you have always, every time been there for me. Even when you traveled to three cities in one week, you still showed up at every softball game as the worlds greatest coach and lovingly assigned me to play pitcher and first base, just as I always wanted. 

And when I have shown you my fear, my anxiety, and my disappointment in life, you have been right there with a poignant story of your own life path to serve as a comfort and confidence booster to me. I am happy, dad, but I also need you right now. The world feels big and I often feel alone in it. We are 'special' in our sensitivity, but as you know, not all people are like us. 

You and I have been a lucky dad/daughter combo in our ability to communicate on such a deep level. I am asking you, from thousands of miles away, to institute those communicative powers and send me your Dad Vibes. I need your comfort, your strength, and your protection as my dad.

I have reminded you of this throughout these nine long months - no matter your inability to reach out from inside that still body, you are still my dad as much as ever. I don't know how to properly ask for a boost from you without the awkwardness of speaker phones or small verbal messages from mom. You were always my number one fan with this blog, so that is why I am writing to you here.

I love you so much. You are so much a part of me and I feel you in my heart while I am so far away. I hear your silly dad quips in my head when I walk on the street. I see the old Russian women hunched over in their coats with their big furry hats, and I hear you say, 

"What do you think, Runsk, could I pull off that look?"

You are more than this Earthly body and you are bigger than this torturous life-sentence. Miracles are floating above, waiting to be granted to someone in need, and God how I know that I need you. More than ever.

Love, Your Runsky,

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