I used to view my life as a daily task in which I navigate between two discordant planes. Then my father’s life intersected mine and I was so focused on giving that my life gelled into one.
On one plane, I have my ‘ill life’ which constitutes my ongoing battle with cancer. Replete with challenges it runs the gamut from medical to administrative. There are protocols that need to be continuously re-evaluated, weekly treatments, frequent blood tests, recurrent trips to the emergency room, and hospitalizations. There is endless paperwork, staying abreast of new medications, discussions with the hematologist, informational conferences.
On another, I have the life I love to live. This revolves around satisfying creative work, family, children, many grandchildren, and until recently, caring for my father.
Sometimes the planes are seamlessly balanced, other times, I am so out of balance, I feel I am falling off the precipice.
Last March my husband and I flew back to the States to help my 90-year old father pack and make aliyah.
For months, my sister and I had been discussing the possibility of bringing my father to Israel. Until he was 90 years old, he worked full-time. But once the daily routine vanished, my father became restless. We felt a change would be good, and as most of the grandchildren and all of the great-grandchildren are living in Israel, Israel seemed to offer an outstanding solution.
My father agreed. And, life began anew for him as he settled into an assisted living residence equidistant to the extended family. He took advantage of the diverse activities, discovered new interests and enjoyed frequent visits from family members.
I would visit twice-weekly on my way home from work, plus Fridays to wish him Shabbat Shalom.
I was amazed at how wonderfully he was adapting to being a new oleh, in a new city, in a new residence. I was equally amazed at how smoothly I was able to maintain the balance I had so carefully crafted since becoming ill four years ago. The situation seemed idyllic.
That is, until my father became ill and one hospitalization led to another. Now, instead of thrice-weekly visits to my father the visits were daily.
As my father’s health deteriorated, so did mine. And, as his life was thrown off balance, so was mine. So that by the time my father passed away in his hospital bed, I was in a hospital bed some 20 kilometers away.
We never fully realize how delicate that balance in life can be. As much as we would like to manage it, I learned that we cannot, nor should we want to. But, perhaps there is comfort in knowing that when one injects life with unbounded love and caring, one’s ‘ill life’ and the life one loves to live can seamlessly blend into one. As it should be.