Wednesday, December 21, 2016

RollerCoaster of Life

To my son Tommy,

Life, once again, is filled to the brim with comings and goings and joyous events and tragedies. It sure keeps me on my toes. Let's start with some of the bad news.

Thursday the 15th, nearly a week ago, at dinner around 6:30, your Grandpa Leo had a pretty bad seizure. After our initial attempts to break the seizure did not work, we called 911. The EMTs were unsuccessful in breaking the seizure and the hospital finally got him out of it around 9pm. He is still at NorthWest hospital (room 350) though he hasn't had anymore seizures or episodes. Right now, the left side of his body (remember his brain cancer is in the right side of the brain which controls the left side) is still too weak to come home. The CT scan confirmed it wasn't a stroke, but the seizure and the brain tumor progression basically had a similar effect. Right now, we are looking to get him either transferred down to a room in Johns Hopkins (where his insurance covers everything and all his doctors practice) or, if that can't happen, to a rehab center for a week or two to work on regaining strength. Just need him to be able to get up on his own and get to the potty and back in bed. Also, he was supposed to start his home chemo on the 16th but now we are late on that which kind of becomes a catch 22. He needs to get to rehab to get stronger and come home so he can do his chemo, but without the chemo the tumor is actively making him weaker. Hopefully we can work it out.

Now for the joyous occasions. You received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You were so excited. You were selected (actually volunteered by your mom but that is just semantics) to give the welcome at the podium and nailed it. Such a rock star! You did forget to shut the door to the confessional room before starting your confession, but as proven many times, we Downeys aren't as private as we should be. I also asked if you told the priest that you had missed Mass, to which you replied, "Whoops." I chuckled and reminded you that if you honestly forget to confess a sin or two, they are forgiven as well. You did proudly proclaim, "Now I can go with you to confession every Saturday, dad!" Um, yeah, okay, every Saturday, or every other Saturday, or once a month, or whatever. No, we will try for every Saturday and we won't let your father's lax Catholic ways become an issue for you!

There are so many many more issues and incidents, both good and bad, that are filling our lives. Sometimes it seems we have more of the bad on our plate, but that just means we have to savor the good even more so. That is what life is like right now, anything but boring with an extra side of difficulty balanced by faith. To be honest, I could use some boring and mundane and stable and predictable and non-urgent in our lives right now, but life often finds a way of shaking it up whenever it gets too comfortable. Or perhaps we do it to ourselves. Who knows? But as we approach yet another holiday season, that include the traditional events (Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas day parties) and some not so traditional events like extra visits to a hospital or medical facility, we embrace the bittersweet as we ride the ups and downs on this rollercoaster of an existence. Just remember to love, and see through any pain and tears to the beauty of this gift we call life.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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