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Today was the birthday party for my nieces, Leah (5) and Emily (3). Today was not their actual birthday, of course. It was just a consolidated party to make things easier on their mom.
My brother, their dad, had to miss the party this year. He is going on his eighth week in the hospital, I think. He suffered heart failure from an unknown cause, spent about seven weeks in the cardiac ICU and is now at the rehab hospital. He is going through some struggles, not the least of which is, for example, missing out on his daughters' birthday party, among many other things. Not the least of which ... maybe that's the very most of which. His wife and all four kids got to go to the hospital after the party, so at least they all got to see him today, and he them. I think this was the first time he has seen his littlest one in this entire time.
I remember what it was like to be in Minneapolis for two weeks while my wife and then-eighteen-month-old son were in Pittsburgh. This was one of the hardest times of my life. I missed my little guy so much.
I will never, ever, ever forget his reaction and the look on his face when I showed up to meet them at a house we were considering buying. I treasure that memory and recall it constantly.
The doctors seem to think that my brother will eventually recover, at least to a significant degree if not fully back to normal. He has a mechanical heart pump that he might need for a long time. Maybe he will need a heart transplant some day. This is not uncommon. All I hope for is that he is soon able to go home and be with his kids again. And I hope that they look at him the way my son looked at me. That they look at him that way every single day. And that my brother cherishes those looks. They are already doing it, of course. I was there when the eldest two kids saw him for the first time in the hospital. It was beautiful and magical. I hope, hope-hope-hope-hope-hope, that he has a long time to spend with them still.
In the meantime, the birthday party was great. All of the children had a lot of fun. Even when life is tough, we can still find little jewels of love and joy to keep us going.
Keep going, we shall.
01:04 Sunday, 25 March 2018