It was one Monday ago; my second week in Kansas and my third week in the US.
In the living room, I was standing across from my father who was sprawled out on a blue recliner. Five men were buzzing around him. Paramedics and EMTs in blue sweatshirts and sheriff's deputy in brown watching them. They were attaching cords to my dad's chest, reading indecipherable lines on strips of red paper rolling out of little machines in duffel bags.
I stood in my black jacket alongside one of my sisters (home from college for Spring Break) as my mother calmly searched her laptop for information on their insurance plan. I listened as my father talked to these men, who had swept into our home in a tide of sirens and flashing lights. He told them what he had told us a half hour or so earlier. There was pain radiating from the center of his torso. He was sweating and disoriented.
Was it a heart attack? We didn't think so. Nevertheless it was serious. My mother sister and I had could see that and the men we called confirmed it.
A stretcher was wheeled in through the front door and the men helped my father walk the two or three steps he needed to take to get into the recliner.
It was then that I put words to a new feeling rising inside me: "When you called 911, you gave him to them."
My family was "Putting his life into someone else's hands." When I thought of this phrase before, I had always pictured the situation it described from the perspective of the person who's well being was in danger. Yet as my mother left with the ambulance and my sister and I stayed behind, I experienced these words from the side of one invested in that ambiguous life but unable to influence the next stage.
I was in a void, a void of inaction and uncertainty. Each new bit of information my mother texted us from the ER unveiled a little more about my father's condition. Every time something new was revealed, we would go instantly to Web MD or one of the other medical sites to fill in any remaining gaps.
As the night passed the culprit was revealed; pancreatitis. Some time after that my sister and I made the trip to the hospital and saw our father off to his room. We drove home with our mother, leaving our dad to the care of his nurses and their morphine.We were a little more knowledgeable of the circumstances we found ourselves in. Yet still, over the next few days we continued waiting in the void. This was all we could do. Yet there were times when that was the last thing I wanted to do.
We people, and perhaps we Westerners above all others, spend much of our lives trying to control and shape our destinies. We believe we should be able to control everything about our lives. We try our hardest to boil the madness and ambiguity of life into simple full proof formulas that will enable us to achieve all we want and avoid any pitfalls.
In truth, we control o so very little of what happens to us. Uncertainty and change are the monarchs of our existence not rebellious elements within it.
Yet we can look Uncertainty in the face and smile without giving into Fatalism. Humankind has a remarkable ability to bounce back. The days passed the men and women we had trusted in were able to make my father's inflamed pancreas settle. Chances are he will be home today or tomorrow thanks to their tireless work.
He will have to have other procedures after this. Nevertheless, the worst is over and the void, which I've grown accustomed to, is receding. And there will be many laughs and times of joy ahead for my family in this, our world of Ambiguity.