It's Ash Wednesday for some, the first day of the Lenten season. It's a purification ritual, meant to remind us of our mortality and sinfulness. It's a call to repentance, to take stock of our spiritual lives. We're made of dust and to dust we'll return, and whatever other lyrics go to that Kansas song (remember them?). My brother-in-law Jason will be wheeled into surgery as we move into Ash Wednesday, to receive the heart, liver, and kidneys the surgeons were finally able to obtain, after numerous donors failed to produce a good liver to go with the heart.
My mother and I went to Stanford Hospital to visit him today. I hope we brought him that good luck, and that it tides him over. I gave him the pep talk, the one I gave myself while going through treatment. Some days I still close my eyes and go through the exercise of visualizing myself getting well, my cells rising up to fight the cancer, the medication burning through the tumor, my bones being clean and pink. In my mind I repeat several mantras, generally following a theme of "I will make it through this", etc. Sometimes I think of all I'm grateful for and express appreciation for them one last time in case I perish.
An endless parade of doctors with different accents came in to discuss the "huge surgery" with him. The last time this surgery was performed was in China in 200–. They all told him he was very high risk, he may not survive, one or two organs could fail, he might suffer a debilitating stroke, even if he survives his road to recovery will be a long and bumpy one, etc etc. On the one hand there's relief and excitement that the wait is over. The other hand is intense fear and grief. What if he dies during surgery? What if there are complications? Will this be the last time we see him?
My sister's been up since five yesterday morning. I hope she can get a moment's rest while he's in surgery. Add to this the announcement that Hearst might close the San Francisco Chronicle. The last thing she needs is to lose her job as well as her husband, and possibly her home. The epic size of this tragedy is mind-boggling.
At least he's receiving an amazing quality of care. Please include him in your prayers.