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Look to the East

[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_PLUS] Rachel Maskell in Asheville Being a mom has taught me about me. I have learned to stand strong, while still being nimble and on my toes. I have learned how to juggle more than I could ever imagine and do it while smiling...and maybe cursing a few times. I have learned the unimaginable is often possible but it requires a letting go of expectations and floating in the abyss of life. What being a mom has not taught me is how to deal with death. What in life does? But for the first time in my life I saw glimpses of what death can mean. And I am okay with it, I think. Two weeks ago I flew out to Asheville on a one way ticket. I wasn’t sure, still not sure, when I’ll be back. The day I arrived my dad was diagnosed with an activated form of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, it's a mouth full, and before we knew it he was being pumped with chemo in hopes to keep him alive. I was feeling confident about our decision, trusting it would buy us time to work out complementary care. But the body can often be unpredictable. All the siblings started to arrive. My sister first with Kaliana since I thought it would be best to have my girlie with me, but that was crazy. Chemo, a toddler, an 800 square foot house with six of us living in it. Crazy. By the end of the week my dad wanted to stop the meds altogether. It was too much. The onslaught of drugs, the nausea and constipation, he wanted it all to stop. He had been in good health, he ate great, exercised, played music. This was foreign. I witnessed his pain and his joy. His family was gathering around him. And that’s been the best part. All of us together - the last time that has happened was when I got married in Greece 8 years ago. Too long. On Friday morning he stopped taking his meds. By Friday afternoon he was shaking and feverish. We called the hospital and they told us to come in. His fever went up to 106. He had 0.1% white blood cells, his blood pressure was almost nil. I was preparing. I was up early that morning to get him his meds. It was still dark and I sat next to him on the floor by the heater. His words felt like they came from far away. He spoke of trust and of being a warrior that goes out into battle even when he knows there is no chance. It was the first time he told me that Kali shouldn't be here. It wasn’t a good place for her. It was during this time I saw the glimpses. I saw the disease eating my father away and I didn’t know what to do. All I could do was sit with him. I recorded our conversations and waited until I could call James. My hubby. My amazing hubby. He booked a flight for the next morning to spend the weekend with me and take Kaliana back home. Tick. I am now in task mode, checking off boxes… Fast forward to today. Five days later and he is doing better. The bacteria that almost brought him down is being mediated through antibiotics, he’s on a nice dose of morphine, and all his vitals are looking good. Finally. Finally I feel like a plan is forming. Finally I feel like I can start putting some things into action and hit the reset button. There will be no more chemo. Dad is emphatic about it. And excited about the future. That’s the best part. Now what? As my dad would say, “look to the east” to what is new and possible. To trust and to focus on what I am here to do on this planet. This has been the biggest blessing for me. Through all this I have had a chance to heal my relationship with my father, to see him as the man as he is, and to embrace his influence on me and how I see the world. In that way I know he will always be with me. I will always be able to see the world through his eyes because he is within me. I too am ready for this next phase. And this is where I draw on my strengths as a mother. I will help to create the container for his care with the knowledge that everything may change. That life is unpredictable but often magical and the unexpected may be possible. Here’s to the future and to family. xo