Tuesday, May 15, 2018

From the Home Desk

So, you haven’t been hearing much from here these last weeks…. Then again, there’s no new Prefect of Communications either, eh?

Moral of the story: as feeding a 24-hour news-cycle always bears the temptation of getting ahead of reality – or inventing one – simply to fill space, suffice it to say, it’s an urge best avoided... at least, if you're going to do this right.

More to the point, though, things are just beginning to ease up from one of the more intense – and, frankly, frightening – moments of this scribe’s life and that of my family. It’s not easy to encapsulate, but here’s the quick-and-dirty: in mid-March, amid the last major snowfall of what felt like an endless winter, my father’s legs suddenly and completely failed. Without any warning whatsoever, he couldn’t walk or stand, and any attempt at either brought an immediate fall….

It was late, the streets were covered and icy, but it was clear the hospital couldn’t wait. A long night of tests was had, and then another, before the cause came to light: a hemorrhage in his spinal cord, essentially knocking out his lower nerves. As that’s usually attributable to trauma, but wasn’t the case here, our sudden team of top-shelf neurologists and surgeons – the kind of folks you never think you'd need until you do – are still baffled by how this happened, and that’s made things even less predictable than they already would’ve been.

It’s been a bumpy ride – the fear and incomprehension of Holy Week become very real in an intensive-care unit… and just when things seemed to be turning a corner over the Octave as Dad started rehab, then pneumonia hit, and his inpatient therapy had to start from scratch. It would be another three weeks before he could stand and take a couple steps… and to keep things brief, we finally, gratefully, got him home just last week. While the fullest possible recovery is a question of months, the improvement is gradual and constant. That said, between a spate of follow-up visits and a couple more procedures which aren’t without their risks, we’re not exactly out of the woods just yet, but at least things are becoming “normal” again… well, for the time being, as much as they’re going to be.

All this hasn’t felt like two months… more like two weeks. As those of you who’ve been through the experience know too well, when it comes up, life becomes a matter of dropping everything, putting out fires and trying to stay in one piece in the process – on this end, a task admittedly easier said than done.

Along the way, what little time and energy could be carved out for this work made for a priceless refuge of sanity. But knowing all this, I hope you can understand that my priority needed to be elsewhere, and will remain so as my father's ongoing care and recovery call for it. For the most part, though, it’s a relief to be able to creak back into the saddle here, all the more given the moment now on tap – the annual end-of-cycle flurry, of which this week’s "DEFCON 1" is just one critical piece.

As you can imagine, these weeks have made for an exhausting, oft-disorienting road… but even for the hectic days, long nights and the sheer frustrating uncertainty of it all, we’ve been surrounded by an outpouring of grace which has done so much to pull us through. Among the salient ways it's been felt here, the prayers and check-ins from a humbling many of this crowd remain a precious blessing, and to those who helped keep the scribe's panic from getting worse by minding the shop and continuing to lend a hand with the bills, thanks for being even more of a Godsend than usual – know how I’ll never forget it.

Over the last two years and more, no shortage of ecclesial voices have aimed to prove their fidelity through heated debate on the Catholic response to challenges of family life... yet far from the easy glamor of the fray, some of us still realize that the real test lies in doing our part for the people we love. In that light, again, a world of thanks for all the understanding, patience, goodness and support – if you could, please keep the prayers up… and as you've never been here for the kid behind the curtain, back to the news.