Another glorious day at the coast, however, I wasn’t paddling and eating 99s as we were there for Dad’s chemo session. It started an hour and a quarter later than expected, but that didn’t bother me too much as I had reserves of post Journey calm to draw on.
I was stuck by how pale and ill Dad looked when we met him at the station. He’s had terrible constipation and hasn’t been sleeping. These may sound like trivial matters, but when you are 86 and full of cancer plus a cocktail of toxic chemicals, it’s a nasty business.
He said he didn’t fancy much lunch, but we (my sister and I) took him to a nice restaurant where he devoured the biggest fish pie I had ever seen. Back at the hospital, I went off to buy cakes (always sugar in times of crisis) and although Dad said he wouldn’t manage one, I bought him a custard tart anyway and he wolfed it down in couple of bites.
Ironically, he looked a whole lot better when he left the hospital after being pumped with poison. I wonder if it’s just a bit of TLC he needs. He lives on his own and I am sure the constant tablet taking, laxative swallowing, late night peeing and lack of sleep is much worse when there is nobody else there.
He has a harem of widows itching to take care of him, but he’s too proud to let them. ‘I can do my own shopping,’ he says. He doesn’t listen when we suggest that taking it easy might be the best option here.
As we parted, he thanked me for all I have done and I stroked his face. It was a bittersweet moment. I’ve never considered my dad a ‘vulnerable’ person, but there he was, as small and pathetic as the rest of us. It strikes me that deep down, we’re all the same.
I listened to Frank Ostaseski reading The Five Invitations on the way home. I’d wanted to watch Killing Eve, but the train’s wi-fi wasn’t good enough, so Frank it was. His words were timely. Everything he says in his book is essentially all that The Journey process is. There’s nothing cutting edge about any of these new age ideas, people have been spouting them for millennia.
Frank encourages us to accept all our emotions and push nothing away. The Journey has made me see that I have never done that. I have a deep well of sadness in me, that I have blocked with freneticism, sugar, social contact, television…you name it, anything but sit in sadness. And why would anyone choose to sit in the sadness? Because if you ignore it, it comes out in unexpected ways.
There’ve been times when I’ve seen a play or a film and acted like somebody in my own family has died. I once went to see an actor friend in a play and not only was I sobbing when he greeted me at the end, I cried all the way through drinks in the pub afterwards and on the way home. At first, he was flattered that I’d found the piece so moving, but after a while, he eyed me as if I was having some kind of mental breakdown.
So, here I am sitting in sadness and it’s okay. I’m off to do my final Journey process today and will no doubt be wading through another mansize box of Kleenex. Bring it on.
I welcome all my emotions.