I don't know what it is about this time of year, and I know it's true that people are born and people pass away all day every day. But there is something about the holidays... people die. My grandparents all died around Christmastime. It gives you such a sickly feeling.
My best friend's father was just in a terrible motorcycle accident. He suffered severe head trauma and broken/cracked ribs. Now he's in the hospital, and there are apparently these huge blood clots in the speech center of his brain, making it so that he can speak all right but he cannot process anything that's being said to him. Thus it's come down to this: to wait and see if the clots will shrink with treatment, or to operate and remove the clots. If they are removed, he will remain as is: confused, befuddled, basically senile, with that part of his brain missing. If they are allowed to stay there during treatment, they may grow instead of shrink, and he will die.
I know what his wife is thinking. There are worse things than death. That's true for all of us, but especially for this man. He's always been one of the smartest, most talkative men I've ever known, knowing a little bit about everything from guns to motorcycles to Machiavelli. He's gotten to be a bit of a codger lately, but over the past four or five years he's been pursuing education again, dreaming of achieving a doctorate and teaching. His conversation has become even heavier, discussing philosophy and literary analysis over all meals and get-togethers. Not being able to understand the world he lives in, and all that he's learned really would be like a fate worse than death to him.
It's weird to have this strong feeling come back, this feeling of really wanting everything to just BE ALL RIGHT no matter what that might take. More than anything I just want him to recover from these clots, and to be fine by Christmas, and for my friend to be fine and for her mom to be fine and for us all to have a happy Christmas in Texas together like we did last year. I have such a strong desire to simply WILL things into being that I'm exhausted and frustrated by the pure powerlessness of myself. I have no capabilities. Except to pray. But that feels so small.
More than that, this guy was like my second father and he was always very proud of me. I used to call him Uncle Ammo in his gun-toting days and now I've taken to calling him Uncle Acky. He was the one who told me that there was nothing more worthwhile than education, and if debt was inevitable in the face of quality education, then that was all right. When I got a card from him (and his wife) celebrating my graduation, it was one of the few cards without any money inside, but it was one of my favorite cards of all because I knew how sincerely he meant his congratulations. We used to gang up on Emily and tease her incessantly, back then my wit was quicker than now and Emily would always get faux-pissed and throw hissy fits while Uncle A and I laughed hysterically. He taught me how to shoot a gun, and told me about Christopher Marlowe, and that Shakespeare was never meant to be read, only heard. One time at the dinner table he told me that he thought I had the wit of John Lennon, one of the best compliments in the world. He has a gruff voice, but, inexplicably, he talks baby-talk to the family cat and lets her sit in a box on the kitchen counter while he eats.
Everything really needs to be OK, even if it isn't. I won't know what to say to someone who's father has died. I simply won't know what to say.