There’s this one thing my parents would always tell me from when I was very little: be thankful. It’s stuck with me, even during trying times, which looking back now, those times were not so trying.
Today though, today I am so thankful.
Two weeks ago yesterday I made my way across the Atlantic and then crossed Europe to the Middle East to visit my parents and family in Lebanon. My arrival was greeted with tight hugs and tears from my parents and myself. We had a late delicious home made Lebanese lunch and sat around talking about anything and everything.
It was close to around 10:30pm when we finally went inside after sitting in my parents garden for some time and got ready to wind down for the night.
Most of what happened after that is still a blur to me. Things went from complete calm to chaos.
I heard my mother screaming – not yelling, but screaming for me. It was my father. He was having a stroke.
I could immediately tell – the drooping mouth on one side, loss of use of his right arm, and the inability to communicate with us. I noticed he was still breathing even though he was completely unresponsive.
It was like something sunk in me so deep and fear that I had never experienced in my life welled up in me.
My mom and I managed to walk him to the kitchen and sit him down. As my mother tried desperately to figure out what the number was for the Red Cross (they are the equivalent of something like 911 in the U.S.) and his doctor, I kept trying to make sure he stayed awake and was breathing.
After numerous calls and what seemed like an eternity and then some, the Red Cross came and took my father to the hospital. My parents doctor, who is also a close friend, met us there and began immediate treatment.
To say that my father was lucky is an extreme understatement. He spent four days in the hospital recuperating and by the time he was released on the following Tuesday, he was walking, talking, and joking as he always had. He even has use of his right arm again.
Several tests followed and he was readmitted into the hospital for an angioplasty and a stent was put in. The tiny clot that had made its way to his head had started in his heart and broken off from a larger clot.
I knew the ins and outs of that hospital in no time.
I cried. A lot. I still do even though my father is ok and at home again. He’ll need a lot of follow up and taking care of, but right now he’s ok.
I feel guilty that I can’t be there for both of my parents and that I live so far away. I feel like I’m a bad daughter even though I’m told I’m not and that I’ve done everything in my power to help both my father and my mother.
But I can’t physically be there for them to check in on them, ask them if they need anything or to go anywhere, or just to stop by for more hugs and a chat over coffee.
It’s so hard living so far away from them. I can’t even express in words how difficult it is.
Every time I think of what happened and think of my dad, a lump forms in my throat. And then I cry some more.
But I’m thankful that my mom and I were there when it happened, that he has such wonderful doctors, and that my parents are surrounded by family, close friends, and neighbors who call and check in regularly.
Life is like a light switch. It can go off in a split second.
Be thankful. Always be thankful.