The resentment, for now, rests on the fringe.
Our hearts are too broken and our eyes too tired from tears to allow anger to surface.
Dad and I spent nearly nine hours in a UnityPoint emergency room a week ago, waiting for a bed in the intensive care unit. Our beautiful dad, Bob Ickes, is nearing the point he calls "turning the page." His wife of 64 years and his four daughters hold his tired hands and tell him over and over again that we love him.
If love was enough to spare a life, he would be back on his feet.
For the first time in my 55 years, I face a profound pain that Dad's hands cannot comfort. My heart hurts for him, for us.
Dad doesn't have COVID-19. His family was stricken by it, nonetheless.
Though I have wished a thousand impossible wishes against the afflictions that took us there, I do not regret that long day in the ER. Dad still could speak clearly, and those hours together comfort me now. The nurses supplied Dad with a new audience for his old jokes, and their laughter was better medicine than anything they injected into his IVs.
The dreadful truth is that I was lucky to occupy that folding chair at Dad's side. At times during the coronavirus pandemic, families have been fully banned from being with their sick loved ones in the hospital. But the mercy of the rules is incomplete.
During his seven days in the hospital, we were permitted one visitor for six hours a day. For the other 18 hours — more than 120 hours in all — Dad was alone. Critically ill, frightened and confused, the man we love with our whole hearts lay alone among strangers.
Our sadness and fear felt unbearable. The instinct to weep woke me from troubled sleep, night after night. We took turns calling Dad's nurses, exercising all the restraint we could muster to be considerate of the overworked hospital staff.
Bringing him home to hospice is a gut-wrenching relief. He never will be alone again.
It is a peculiar hope to harbor — that the grief will continue to consume us until the resentment that exists on our emotional fringe simply dries into a distant recollection. Anger is wasted sentiment when you exist in a cloud of love and longing.
The hospitals are not to blame for their rules. The fault for the added suffering of families already awash in anguish is attributable to the selfishness of those too stubborn and single-minded to consider how their recklessness is hurting others.
I was befuddled by the actions of the anti-maskers before. Now, a faceless disappointment rests somewhere below the layers of lost emptiness.
Feeling this fragile removes my strength to rage at the unnecessary heartache that added so cruelly to our load. We know others have endured it, are enduring it now and will face it in the future.
It is best to include them in the prayers we pray nearly every moment now. It is better that way.
From Dad's family to yours, we are sorry. We hurt with you. We share your agony, and we understand your pain.
Let love be the leader, even when the darker sentiments try to push past it.
The beautiful man who is turning the page deserves our whole hearts. We must be free to give them. And we are.