The clock chimed midnight almost an hour ago and here I sit. I know that I should be in bed. I am aware of my body’s need for sleep, but quite simply: I am afraid. I am afraid to be alone with myself tonight. The previous four hours have been filled with television and useless internet distractions. I’ve been feeding my mind cotton candy and lollipops in the vain hope it will dull the ache I am feeling.
Last night, my uncle had some sort of cardiac event. Doctors told us today it wasn’t a heart attack, but that, for reasons still unknown, his heart stopped. And stayed stopped for longer than a brain can take. The EMT’s revived him and modern medicine has him breathing with a regular pulse, but with little or no brain activity. He is not responding to light or sounds. Some reflex responses reappeared this afternoon. We don’t know what is ahead for him, but we’ve been told that if we do not see improvement over the next few days — well, then improvement may not be coming at all.
Frankly, my mind is still grasping a straws, trying to find some framework or reference point to deal with all of this, but it has been a predictable mess. Numb nothingness interrupted by inconvenient tears and frightening sobs. We will not have any answers quickly. We must wait.
Wait to find out if one of my heroes in life is going to pull through or not.
My uncle Jeff has always been the man I look to as I try to understand this geeky, creative, technical, poetic, linear mash-up that I am. I spent a lot of years beating myself up for being too creative, or too technical, or for having such a crazy “career path”. I thought my life looked insane; void of meaning. But my uncle’s life is a shining beacon of what being a renaissance man can mean. He loves “classic bad sci-fi” and taught me that, sometimes, you can find “funny & enjoyable” just on the other side of “God awful”. My uncle taught me that the best thing to do when you have made big cups of awful tasting pudding is to shoot them with a pellet gun. I learned to be fascinated enough to want to know how a thing works from him. He’s taught me about beer and bread baking. He’s had a wackier career path than I have.
In many ways, I have learned how to be me by watching how Jeff is Jeff.
And I am terrified that my family may lose him.
Maybe that is all I need to stay up this late to say: I am afraid I may be losing one of my guiding stars. I am afraid that I will be the only one like me, in my family, for a long while. I am afraid of the awkward silences that have always been filled with his antics and shop-talk.
Truly, I am just afraid to lose someone I love.
I’ve been running from this all night. Trying to keep these tears at bay and these fears hidden. And I knew, given the chance, my heart would not stay silent once my brain was no longer entertained. So now I’ve had my catharsis, my “good” cry. I remember that I am not the only one impacted, and think of my Aunt, my Father, my Grandmother. And after a whispered prayer I think I might be able to get some rest if I close my eyes soon. The fear is still here though, inviting me to wash dishes and fold laundry. To do anything but go to bed. But my heart longs for rest, for the comfort of a shared bed, I should go to bed. And I, afraid to sleep, will try.