Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Long Month

As I write this, within one hour the month of March will finally and mercifully come to an end. This has been a tragic month for the family of Lloyd Smith and all his friends. It is a month that began with the possibility of Lloyd contracting a cold or, at worst, pneumonia, to the end of the month with him lying in a hospital bed unaware of much of his surroundings.

It has been a month of monumental emotional swings. There was the hope of a positive outcome of a cardiac test. The fear of the worst. The confirmation that his heart was seriously blocked, thus requiring immediate bypass surgery. There was the agonizing wait as the surgeon extracted blood vessels from other parts of his body to serve as conduits to his hear, bypassing the ones that were clogged. And then the long wait once surgery was completed to see how he was doing.

There was great hope once again as the days immediately following his operation passed. He seemed to be gathering strength with each day, even to the point of beginning to take some nourishment orally. Then, profoundly and suddenly, all came crashing down late in the night as his heart came to a complete stop.

With hearts beating wildly from fear and anxiety, we waited in the hospital to see if doctors could bring him back to life. There was the guarded happiness as his heart resumed its rhythm, but the underlying fear that he now had sunk out of sight loomed.

Since then the days have passed agonizingly slowly. Each day, one looks for some sign of improvement and, at times, it does seem that improvement has indeed taken place. But if it has, it is only minimal. Now, as March becomes a part of our history, an uncertain April and beyond dawn. There is great irony in all of this.

With Lloyd as sick as he is, the springtime of the year is arriving. Warm temperatures and sunny skies have replaced the damp and dreary weather that so often marked the days of March. Tender plants have begun to peek their heads above the ground as trees begin to bud and daffodils and tulips begin their annual pageant of vibrant colors. All of this by way of reminding us that life does, indeed, renew itself. And once again, as we emerge from a long, cold winter, hope is in the refreshingly warm air.

Yet, there is a certain darkness in our hearts this spring. But in that darkness we can find some light if we look hard enough. It is hard to see it in the midst of pain and suffering, but it is there. It is to be found in the legacy of a father whose life has been well-lived. It is in the memories of holidays, birthdays, camping trips, and anniversaries. It is in the ordinary every day encounters we have ever had with him. It is in the knowledge that Lloyd Smith has lived a life that we can all look upon with pride. He has taught us well and, in time, as the painful memory of this cold and bitter March fades into the distance, we will begin to see better just what a gift this month has been. For without it, we would not have taken the opportunity to reevaluate our own lives and measured them in relation to Lloyd.

So, good-bye March! And thank you for your most difficult lessons. We will not miss you, but we will one day appreciate you for what you gave us.