Enough

Today I sat on the examining table at my podiatrist’s office as he debrided my foot. I realized that my foot has bled for a couple of days shy of 6 months. My heart doesn’t function well enough to send enough blood to my extremities to heal the wound. And as I prepared to leave his office, I occupied the examining room for too long because I didn’t have enough energy to pull on my socks and put on my shoes. As I struggled, I prayed I had enough control to prevent me from vomiting from weakness. As I walked down the hall to the elevator I worried I didn’t have enough energy to walk to my car. While on the first floor I walked so slowly and I felt so exhausted that I didn’t have enough strength to steady myself. A man was kind enough to offer to get me a wheelchair.

I spent the rest of the day worried about whether or not I had enough money to make the necessary arrangements for the end of my life. Now I’m not really a dramatic man; I’ve very pragmatic. I’m nearly 55 years old. I have a poorly functioning heart- with too many beats, an aortic aneurysm, and an ejection fraction of about 31%.  I know my heart isn’t strong enough to maintain itself with 3 different issues attacking it.  So. With the intention of kindness to my loves, I’ve arrived at the conclusion I haven’t done enough. I need to make final preparations. Just in case.

And I realized my perspective has changed since my diagnosis. I’ve written so much about the can’t and the couldn’t.

But today I realized I think about enough.

All the time.

Have I done enough?

Am I good enough?

Do I have enough faith to endure?

Do I have enough time to fulfill my familial obligations?

Do I have enough resources to maintain a sustainable standard of living?

Does my heart function enough to keep me alive?

Will the new medicine work well enough to avoid future procedures I can’t afford and they don’t perform at my healthcare organization?

Are there enough physicians in my state to perform the new procedure? My doctor thinks there are 2 in Minnesota who perform it.

Have I achieved enough to have a worthy legacy?

Have I been kind enough?

Have I offered enough contrition?

Will I ever get enough sleep?

Do I have enough money to bury myself? Do I have enough money for a coffin and a headstone and a plot? I’m smart enough to know that I don’t have enough time to procrastinate.

Do I have enough courage?

Does God know I’ve had enough?

I don’t know how much more I can take.

I need mercy.

Appropriate

StPatrick1Listen up:

Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish; he was British and sent to Ireland as a slave. He escaped, returned home, became a Roman Catholic priest.

Saint Patrick wasn’t an immigrant; he was a missionary priest. Google the difference. Educate yourself.

Saint Patrick didn’t profess religious tolerance. He was an advocate of one faith: Roman Catholicism. He traveled to Ireland to CONVERT the Irish to Roman Catholicism.

Saint Patrick’s Day isn’t about Ireland: Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus. Saint Patrick’s Day is a religious Roman Catholic feast day that honors the sanctity of a faithfilled priest.

You’re either against cultural appropriation or you’re not. Grow a pair. Define your beliefs.

If you’re celebrating Saint Patrick’s Feast Day today and you’re not Roman Catholic – consider yourself the Iggy Azalea or Justin Timberlake of the Christian world.

Let’s honor the Saint today and eliminate your ignorance.

Look up the definition of hypocrisy.

Look up the definition of cultural appropriation.

Look up the definition of sciolism.

You want to make political points – don’t use facts that are polar opposites of the facts.

And to all my Roman Catholic friends – happy Saint Patrick’s Feast Day.

 

Fruited Plain

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Can you stand nude in the middle of the room with your arms by your sides and endure the criticism of your manhood? That’s the cost of moral integrity. Cowards cover-up their shortcomings with holy books. You ate from the tree of knowledge – own it. Fig leaf / parchment it’s all cowardly covers. Saints stand in front of God. They don’t hide behind Him.

Getting To The Heart of The Matter

heart_by_vampireschulz

Daily I write sentences or paragraphs and tuck them in my cloud. I usually don’t want to lose the thought and I intend to edit the words or expand the concept.  And then about once every couple of months I peruse the documents and delete them.  Well, if I didn’t see the merit then …?  I started this practice years ago.  Then I scribbled and filed.

I found this piece tonight.  I don’t intend to edit it and I don’t see the need to expand it. Yet I don’t want to abandon it.  Because of all the cardiology things going on inside me, it resonates in a completely different manner now.  I’m glad I kept it aside.

The heart is the most self seeking organ in the body. It merely gauges a personal reaction to an action.  Consider the physical pyramid: the heart lies in the center but the mind is the pinnacle. A man’s most prized possession is his conscience. It’s the seat of his justice and the reminder of his obligations. If you want to offer humanity your greatest gift, offer your assistance. Don’t offer your heart; offer your help. The fundamental flaw of The Wizard of Oz is that they asked for all the wrong things. The yellow brick road led Dorothy back to where she began.

Spared Change

“What was that?”

file000462846448“It’s a …”another prolonged feral growl leaked from his closed lips. It was accompanied by an upper respiratory spasm that shook him from shoulder to sternum. “It’s … a … spasm.” He labored each word until it emerged from his mouth. “My pulmonologist said it’s not my lungs. It’s related to my heart.” He raced the sentence to its completion. “Fuck I don’t know.” He paused to control his voice. “I can’t even talk on the phone anymore.” He whispered another wail and elongated his neck in an attempt to open his airway.

“Can’t they do something about it?” He straightened himself in his chair and crossed his leg over his knee.

“I don’t know.” He steadied his voice and tried to control the rasp. “I’m hoping.” He waited for another spasm to end. “I’m on two inhalers. But I don’t want to talk about that anymore. I don’t want to waste my words.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

“This is spiritual direction. Let’s talk about God.”

“Okay.”

“I can’t figure Him out.” He placed his tongue behind his bottom teeth and inhaled. “Yesterday morning I was so depressed.”

“About your health?”

“No. I just felt alone.” He tried to silently suppress a spasm. “I had no one to shovel my sidewalk. And so I decided to shovel it myself.”

“Please tell me that you didn’t.”

“I didn’t.”

“I can shovel your sidewalk after work.”

“No bro. It’s okay. As soon as I catch my breath, I’ll finish the story.”

“Okay.”

“I’ve got to stand up.” He walked over to the window and looked outside. “I just couldn’t believe I didn’t have anyone to help me. And I told God that.”

“Could you hire someone?”

“I have. But it’s $20 a shot. And that doesn’t sound like a lot? But with all the medicine and three of us being hospitalized in the last couple of months, I’m trying to save cash. Did you know it’s $96 for an ambulance to take you to the emergency room? We’ve done that 3 times this winter.”

“I could pay for someone to shovel your sidewalk.”

“Bro you took the vow of poverty. I didn’t. Let me finish my story.”

He nodded.

“Okay. Jesus, I can’t breathe!” He closed his eyes and hissed through a spasm.

“How can I help you?”

“Can you see why my social life is dead?” His lips smiled; his eyes teared. He exhaled. “Anyway. I thought it would melt during the day. And so I waited.”

“Did it?”

“No. Do you know my next door neighbor knows … about my heart and … actually watched the ambulance take … my Father last week, and he shoveled … his sidewalk yesterday … and didn’t touch mine. I couldn’t be that man. I couldn’t.” A spasm shook him. “Fuck it.”

“It’s not a kind world.”

“Truer words bro.” He walked and sat on a chair. “Anyway, last night there was a … small knock on my door. I opened it … and an old man was standing on my sidewalk with his bicycle.” He rode out a spasm. “He held the shovel I keep on my … porch and he looked homeless… He asked me if I wanted my sidewalk shoveled. He was at least in his late 60s. He said he’d do it for $7.”

“Did you hire him?”

“Well, I had to see if … I had cash. Who has cash anymore? And I only found $3. And I told him I couldn’t hire him because I only had $3 cash. And he said he’d do it for $3. I started to cry. … I remembered I had a jar of change. I asked him if he’d take quarters. He said he would. … And so I paid him all the cash I had. Isn’t God funny?”

“I wouldn’t say God was funny.”

He leaked a guttural growl. “You know what I mean. … In all the years I’ve lived there,” he rode a spasm, “I’ve never had anyone ask to shovel or mow my lawn. …I knew God sent him.”

“God sent him.”

“I’m not alone at all.”

“I never thought you were.”

“Hey, today? I don’t want to pray for me. Let’s pray for that old man.”

“Okay.”

“Can I go to confession now?”

“Absolutely.”

“Thank you Father.” He controlled a spasm as he knelt on the carpet.

Miss Takens

45957I find myself offering apologizes. It’s not that I have regrets. I don’t have regrets.

If I’ve wronged – I admitted it.

If I’ve loved – I declared it.

If I’ve feared – I risked it.

If I’ve sinned – I confessed it.

That’s one of the reasons I returned to Roman Catholicism when I was 23. I love Confession. I love publicly admitting what I’ve done and what I’ve failed to do. I love taking ownership of my sins. I love making amends for my transgressions. So you see I love confession, and repentance, and reconciliation.

I’m not looking back on my life with regret. And I don’t feel guilty. I haven’t left deeds unconfessed, unrepented, unamended, or unfinished. As I move toward death – be it sooner or later – I daily examine my conscience and I amend my life. And lately I find myself apologizing. A lot. My behavior is sentimental. I feel embarrassed by the exhibition. and so I explain myself.

Last week I sat with my best friend and I apologized to him. I told him the reason I’m so sentimental is that I miss him. I explained that I don’t miss him now – I miss our future. I miss the conversations we won’t have – the activities we won’t share – and the laughs we won’t give each other. I’m smart enough to know the finite of the friendship. My irregular heartbeat is a metronome of our finishing moments.

This morning I played tunes and my Mother walked by me. I watched her 79 year old body as she moved. My Mother is so fun. While music soundtracked my childhood, she rarely walked; she danced. She rarely spoke; she sang. My Mother was a great dancer. When she heard a song she loved – she danced a combination of a tap and a step. She could twist and turn from her ankles to her toes. Very unique. But that was before the pain.  That was before the ache.  This morning as music guided her and she walked by – she just walked. And I missed her. I miss her.

Sentimental? I don’t know.

Don’t you want to be missed?

(Photo Courtesy of Lottie Wihl)

Endings.

20170201_092826“So tell me how this ends.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“I want to know the ending.”

“Oh. It won’t be sudden. Your heart will just stop. Like it would for someone elderly.”

“Okay. Because I’m afraid to go to sleep.”

“It won’t be a heart attack.”

“Okay.”

“Anything else?”

“So ten to fifteen years? I’m only 55.”

“Let’s be more optimistic than that.”

“Okay.”

Unsaid

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“There’s so many things we can’t ever say to each other.” He picked up his drink and avoided his reflection behind the bottles across the bar.

“I can’t imagine there’s anything we couldn’t talk about.” He laughed and picked up his beer and took a sip. “Dude, we talk about everything!”

“No bro. We’re running out of time. I’m just thinking about all the conversations we’re never gonna have.”

 

(Photo Courtesy of James Sutton)

Still

The faint hiss of the radiator shattered the silence. Neither man spoke; neither man moved.

He shifted in his seat and repositioned his legs, “Silence doesn’t fit you.”

He lifted his head and looked at him, “I was just thinkin’.”

merton“Care to share the thought?”

He stood and walked to the window. “I’m thinking I talk too much.”

He relaxed in his shoulders. “Is this in jest?”

He turned and looked at him, “No. I’m dead serious. I think I talk too much.”

“Well, talking’s what we do here.”

“I know. I don’t mean talk like in reveal. I don’t mean I tell too much. I’m thinking I actually talk too much. You know, like too many words. I’ve thought about it. That’s all.” He turned back to the window and looked outside. “I hate snow.”

“What brought on these thoughts?”

“Have you ever noticed there’s no quiet anymore? No one shuts up.”

“Sure. I’ve noticed that.”

“I sat in a waiting room this morning and I listened to people. And no one was quiet. If they weren’t talking to someone, they were talking on the phone. So many syllables of absolutely nothing. Christ we’re a self-regarding nation.”

“Were you talking?”

“No. I’m too tired to talk anymore. But that’s just now. I always talked. I talked all the time. I’m a self-regarding asshole too. So many words of absolute nothing.”

“So you feel lately you’re hearing too much nonsense?”

He returned to the chair and sat down. “No, I’ve thought about that too.” He leaned in and pedestaled his elbows on his knees. “I used to date this woman.” He leaned back into the chair. “Date. Such a proper word. I used to have sex with this woman I was completely embarrassed of. And let me just say I know how putrid that is. But that’s not the point. The point is that one night I saw her in a bar and I was with some buddies and I didn’t want them to know I’d slept with her. So every time she’d started to talk, I interrupted her so she couldn’t say anything I didn’t want her to. It became almost violent. It’s like I snatched the words before she got them out of her mouth. Do you get what I mean?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t want to sit.” He stood up and started to take a step. He put his hand to his face and covered it with his palm. “I’m so Goddamned dizzy I feel like I’m going to fall down.”

“Sit down.”

“It’s okay. It’s a brief thing. It’s one of my heart medicines. And I should be used to it now but I forget. It’s okay. I’m okay.” He walked over to the bookcase and stood in front of it. “I’m okay now.” He put his hands inside his pockets and felt his rosary.

“How are you feeling?”

“Sick. I’m feeling sick.” He returned and sat in the chair. “Here’s my point. I listened to all the talking today and it reminded me of me. All the talking so no one can say aloud all the things no one wants to hear or think.”

“Is that why you talk?”

“Sometimes. I think everyone does that sometimes. But I think we do it for other reasons too.” He stood up and waited until he felt his bearings. “Do you remember when you were a kid and you were on a time-out? You’d sit there all quiet and pretty soon you’d think your mother forgot you. So you’d move the chair or clear your throat? Did you ever do that?”

“Sure.”

“I think people do that. I think people make noise so someone – anyone – realizes they’re there.”

“Are you worried no one knows you’re there?”

He shook his head. “No, people will forget me. But they know I’m here now.” He turned and pulled a book off a shelf. “Do you still read?”

“Is this a conversation about nothing?”

He slid the book back into its place. “No. I’ve run out of words. I haven’t anything left to say.” He turned around. “I told you I talked too much.”