Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kin, Kind, Kinder, Kindred

I remember eating a candy called "Kinder Surprise." Kinder is German for children, but I think I ate this candy in Australia - it was an egg shaped hollow chocolate and contained a toy inside. It seems really strange, now that I look back on it, to eat a chocolate egg and have a tiny wooden car fall out. It was surprisingly wonderful and novel at the time though. When I think about kin and kindred, I get a little kind-er surprised too.

When my father passed away in 2006, I experienced more pain than I ever thought possible. It was worse than when my mom got sick - my response then was a very no-nonsense we'll get through this if I have to carry you on my back through the muck. And it was worse than when I got sick and had to give up a very important piece of my dreams - at that time, I was able to focus on spirit and how there must be a greater plan for me. With both my mom and my experience of illness, we had some time to prepare for our bad diagnoses and resultant surgeries. We're both control freaks and extremely strong women, so I think we also needed to "stay strong" for ourselves and everyone around us which helped us cope, in a sense.

My father died suddenly when he fell at work. I got the call in the middle of class on a Friday afternoon - I looked at my phone in the middle of lecture and saw calls from my mom, my brothers and my grandmother. I thought my grandmother had passed and people were calling from her house. I cried a little during class just thinking that was probably what happened. I cried a lot more when my brother told me dad had fallen. E got me on a plane and followed a few days later. I wish I'd insisted she come that day. I arrived early the next morning and spent the day at my father's bedside - my father had fallen and probably died, but he was being kept alive on a ventilator while they did regular scans to monitor his brain. By evening, they knew there was no hope and the family decided not to prolong his life artificially.

This was more than I was intending to write this morning, but it feels cathartic to get it out. I had flashbacks of my father falling and of turning off the machine for almost a year before getting treatment, but I don't talk about what happened, how it felt or how it hasn't really stopped hurting. There are so many levels of pain tangled up with my father's death and the one I intended to write about was the feeling of being utterly alone. That feeling has been reinforced many times in the last 18 months when friends ended relationships, other close friends excluded me, I wasn't able to attend family events and looking forward to graduating medical school with only my mother to celebrate.

It sounds bleak, but in unexpected moments I get reminded that besides kin, kindred exist in the world. Even if we only walk in tandem for a season, there is still value and I still take comfort there.

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