Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Buddhism & Eternity: 4 of 30

The Buddhist eternity knot is one of the eight auspicious symbols and represents many concepts of continuity and connectedness. One source says that in Tibetan Buddhism, the eternity knot is a symbol of infinity, or that there is no end to consciousness. "The core of our being infinitely flows, turns, and interacts with ourselves as we go through the cycles of our lives, deaths, and rebirths."

Two other possible meanings include a long life, in which the many twists and turns of the knot indicate the many experiences we may have as we go through such a long life. It also symbolizes a never-ending love. The knot "helps us to recall that the path to self-perfection, to the ultimate freedom, starts with the simple act of inviting love to be our first and last spiritual guide."

Don't you find that last statement interesting? Especially given that the Bible says, "God is love"? What if all the world's religions could just recognize that? Wouldn't personal and global peace be within our reach?
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Part 4:

I spent three days with Kim and the boys so that she could get some rest and so that we could enjoy some time off together. By the middle of the three days, Friday, we went out to dinner that evening at Applebee's -- a place I thought we could take the kids without their high energy level being a problem. The only problem, really, was that as I sat across from Kim, I noticed that she was very pale and that her eyes were crossing. I had driven the Navigator at her request, as she wasn't feeling well, but I had no idea how sick she was becoming. We'd been planning on taking the boys over to PetSmart, where my son Sean was working part-time, to get some snails for the fish tank.

"Don't you just want to go straight home from here?" I asked. "You look like you just need to go to bed."

She looked as though I'd hurt her. "Are you leaving me?"

"No, of course not," I said, a little frustrated. The boys were acting out and taking full advantage of Mommy's distraction and illness and my newness. As I tried to keep Tom from crawling under the table, Kim tried to get Justin to eat (a never-ending chore).

We managed to make it to PetSmart, but I was still feeling really badly for Kim. She clearly needed to be in bed, but she had to be back at work the following night. With two new snails in a bag, we headed home and got the boys to bed. The next day was just as frustrating, as Kim could barely stay awake, and I was worried about her driving to work and doing her job. She kept reassuring me she'd be fine.

I don't remember, but I guess the worthless nanny was still there, somewhere in the picture, because I headed home around 2 p.m. and tried to fall into bed for a nap. My concern for her wouldn't let me, though. When I love someone, it's deep. I don't love halfway. I was already 100% in love with her, and I was so afraid of losing her. I stayed in touch with her to be sure she got to work alright and then got home alright. In my spirit, I knew that things were going south, health-wise, for her.

When we made it to wound care early the next week, she was in bad shape. She and the boys drove over to my place to pick me up. At first, I told her that I was absolutely exhausted. Because of sleeping in a new bed (with all my neck and muscle problems), I really was in bad shape and was thinking of going to my pain specialist for trigger point injections. Since late 2005, I've battled chronic spinal pain, and since last October, I've battled with one infection after another. It wears a girl down.

Her response via text message was, "Okay, get some sleep. I'll be fine."

Hmmm. By now I was starting to learn that "I'll be fine" is Kim-speak for "Holy shit, I'm falling apart!" I quickly texted back that I would be ready in 10 minutes, to come pick me up.

On the way to the clinic, I noticed that she was driving rather erratically, drifting into the next lane and such. I would squeeze her hand when I would notice this, bringing her back to alertness.

"I'll drive on the way home," I said, firmly.

Uncharacteristically, she said, "That's probably a good idea."

By the time we got to the clinic, she was extremely pale and almost gray. She put on a good face when we got into the clinic, and she filled out the forms while I minded the boys. When we were taken back to the exam room, I didn't care for the looks on the faces of the staff. They seemed too focused on her, too worried. I also didn't care for the look on Kim's face. She kept falling asleep, and her speech was practically incoherent. I knew it wasn't from pain medication -- it was from a dangerous level of illness.

She was supposed to drive to Annapolis (2 hours) for work that evening and was concerned about getting out of the wound care clinic in time to make it to work. When her surgeon entered the room, I asked her, "Please tell Kim she can't go to work tonight. I'm so worried about her!"

Kim had just picked Tom up from school before coming to get me, and he was exhausted. When parents are ill, and when things aren't right in the household, kids feel it. Tom was feeling the exhaustion his mother felt, so he crawled up in my lap and laid his head on my shoulder. Justin sat in the chair next to me and kept asking, "Is Mommy gonna be aw-right?" The look of concern belied his young age.

The room was soon filled with nurses, technicians, and Kim's surgeon (who definitely saw the cause for my concern), all buzzing about her, pulling together supplies, irrigating the wound, and throwing questions at me.

"What do you mean she drove herself here?"
"Has she been this way for very long?"
"How much pain medication did she take?"

I had very little information with which to help them; after all, Kim and I had been together less than a month! One nurse sat down and asked me to go over the list of medications with her. She also asked me if the illegibility of Kim's handwriting was normal. I tried to laugh about it, saying, "Well, she is a doctor, you know!"

But nothing was funny. None of it. I couldn't be at her side, because there were so many people surrounding her, and because I had to care for the boys. Tom was sleeping heavily on me by that point. I kept searching her face, and we would lock eyes, and both of us would tear up.

"I love you," I mouthed to her. She smiled a sad smile.

When her surgeon told her that she couldn't go to work for at least two weeks, her tears started in earnest.

"I can't miss work," Kim said. She just kept shaking her head.

She's been trying to establish herself in the new group and has only been on the job for a few months. This marked the beginning of my understanding of the medical profession as one which does not allow one to be human or to have a family that has human needs. It made me really glad that when I was young and had dreams of going to medical school, things got in my way. As a doctor, Kim has made sacrifice after sacrifice, all for the good of others. None of it is to her glory or to her benefit. The money that doctors make simply repays what it costs for their education and helps them to buy the things that will keep their families happy and entertained while they are so resoundingly absent.

But there was no arguing this time. Kim's surgeon got on the phone with the clinic scheduler and said that she was taking Kim out of work for a week to two weeks so that she could heal from a "serious surgical wound".

Bags of supplies, instructions, and prescriptions were handed to me. Nurses helped me get to my feet with a 50-lb boy in my arms, while they loaded me up with everything we needed to get through the next day or so until the home health nurse arrived. All I wanted to do was drop everything and put my arms around Kim, but I had to get us all to the truck, to the drive-through pharmacy, and back to Kim's house.

Later in the day, I ran over to my townhouse and packed a suitcase. I let my son know that I'd be gone for at least a week, helping Kim take care of herself and the boys. He took on the care of our bulldogs, our cats, and the townhouse.

And I haven't lived there since. I've been here with Kim, loving her, taking care of her (when she'll let me), and becoming "Dora-Mom" to the boys.

This mom never knew she'd ever have another child, let alone two more boys. I am still grieving the daughter I lost, and praying that the one I have left will live an incredibly long life. I knew I couldn't have another child of my own (that dream ended shortly after Sean was born in 1987). Truthfully, after my last relationship ended, and after Sean told me that he would like to adopt a child at some point, I thought, "Yeah, we could do that." I thought I would just live with my son and never look for another partner.

God had other plans for me, though. The love I sowed in my own children, in the people I've met, in the people I haven't met (through my writing), and in Kim has brought more love to my door. Though my daughter has died, she lives on in my heart, in my mind, and in the memories all around me. She is in the cycle of death, rebirth, and life. She is part of the eternity knot, as is Sean, as am I, as are Kim and the boys. Let's not forget, "The ultimate freedom starts with the simple act of inviting love to be our first and last spiritual guide."

More of the story later. Peace - D

5 comments:

Daryl said...

Beautiful.

Shubhajit said...

Love is the law of life. to realize the existence of oneness.

All human passion, from the filthiest to the most holy one, every branch, twig, leaf everything originates from the stem called love. when we understand the oneness, love is attained. It is That. Love is God indeed.

It's a very charming piece. Be well.

Mental P Mama said...

Love everything about Buddhist teachings. The most important one for me is that suffering is inevitable. Sending you all warm and healing thoughts.

TSannie said...

Beautifully written.

Syd said...

I hope that Kim is doing better. Taking care of ourselves and recognizing when to do that is important. I am glad that you have her in your life.