Skip to content

 The Unexpected


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.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Meghan #

    Marie, just stumbled across this, glad I did! So sorry to hear about your dad but happy to know that he’s doing better. How scary! Sending you big hugs xoxo

    July 19, 2015
    • Marie #

      Thank you. Yes thankfully he’s doing a lot better and hope he continues to be ok. xo

      July 20, 2015
  2. Eva #

    I’m so sorry to read that you are dealing with this. I found you through San’s blog, am a fellow (German) expat and yes, sometimes it’s very, very difficult to be so far away from your loved ones. I can so relate. Best wishes to you and your family!

    July 20, 2015
    • Marie #

      Thank you very much Eva! Much appreciated.

      July 21, 2015
  3. I can’t even imagine. Not even close. I’m so sorry it happened but I am SO GLAD you were in Lebanon at the time. Trying to deal with this from here would have been just awful. Continued good strong wishes for your dad!!!

    July 21, 2015
    • Marie #

      Thank you so much lady! xo

      July 21, 2015
  4. San #

    I am so, so scared (all the time) that something could happen to my parents (or any other family member) and that I am here, 6000 miles away from home.
    So, I definitely relate to your feelings on a very high level…. and I can only say: I am so glad you were there with them, when it happened. Can you imagine having to deal with this while being so far away??
    I also know the guilty feeling. It’s awful and while irrational, no a thing that you can really change. Do you have any sisters/brothers that are close to your parents? (Sorry, if I asked this before… I don’t remember.)
    Lots of hugs, friend and I hope for only good news about your parents from here on out!!

    July 21, 2015
    • Marie #

      Thanks lady. I can’t even begin to imagine had this happened while I was here and I’m so so so thankful I was over there when it did.

      I don’t have any siblings, I’m the only child, but I have a lot of family still in Lebanon and they have a good support community made up of not family but friends and neighbors. I just wish I could be closer. Nothing really replaces that (I’m sure 100% you get that).

      Thankfully he’s doing better now and I hope he continues to do so.

      July 21, 2015
  5. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s stroke :(. Hope the follow-up will help him and your mom be able to maintain his health. It’s very hard being so far from your aging parents. I was only a few hours away from my parents, and even that was (and is) hard. Yes, be thankful everyday. I’m most thankful that my mom has a great set of neighbors that help her clean off the snow on her car all of the time, every single time! And that she has friends who check in on her.

    July 21, 2015
    • Marie #

      Thanks Lisa. He is thankfully doing better and I hope he continues to do so. I’m really thankfully they have so many good people around them. Still wish I could be near them though.

      July 22, 2015
  6. Oh I am so sorry to hear about this 😦 I hope with the follow ups and care your dad will keep on track to getting on the mend. You can’t feel guilty for not being there physically with them. It’s just, well life… we all move with the flow of it. Though, I get that feeling sometimes too being so far away from my parents.

    Life really is like a switch. And that’s a thought I hate thinking about because it’ll get me thinking about things I hate to think about.

    July 22, 2015
    • Marie #

      Thank you. Distance is definitely difficult. Which makes me wish someone would invent teletransportation already!

      I think we tend to think about how fragile life is when we come face to face with our own or someone else’s mortality. But we get through it, and keep moving forward. That’s always the most important.

      July 22, 2015
  7. dawn #

    I’m so glad to hear that your dad is doing better. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that (and continue to have to go through it from afar). I’m thinking of you my friend!

    July 25, 2015
    • Marie #

      Thanks lady. I’m just so glad I was there, but yeah it definitely sucks being far away again. It’s ok, though, I’ll take being there when this all happened rather than being back here in the US.

      July 27, 2015
  8. Be VERY thankful. And grateful you were there for him. I’m sure that helped in his recovery.

    July 26, 2015
    • Marie #

      Oh trust me, I am.

      July 27, 2015

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Sharing the difficult things | Marie's Café

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: