My Dad and Morrie

5/19/2008
5:12 AM

The only light in the room glows from my laptop as I lay on the couch of my apartment in the dark. In the other two rooms of the apartment are kept my brother and my mom, and from each room the sound of restless sleep and sniffles can be heard. My father has just left for home, to go do what he does best — work to provide for the family. His early morning departure was rife with tearful hugs and cracking goodbyes; he will not see my brother again before he leaves for Spain, a month-long study abroad trip. The drama of the moment was heightened enormously by the tiny fact that a few days after my brother leaves, my dad will be undergoing major brain surgery. The diagnosis? Due to some strange deterioration of his skull around his left ear canal, my dad is losing spinal fluid little by little, everyday. The looming procedure? Patch up the hole in my dad’s skull.

He didn’t want to tell my brother for fear that he would cancel his trip to Spain. I told him last night at dinner that he should, and he did. He expressed the peace that he had made about the surgery, and how he felt comfortable going into the operation. As my brother sat stone faced, I opened my mouth to tell a story — always the carrier of the conversation during our conversationally challenged family meals. My offering? I’ve just had perhaps the most meaningful read of my life: Tuesdays with Morrie. I told the story of my perusing Barnes & Noble on a Friday night (a day after my dad told me he would be having this surgery) until closing time, ultimately purchasing two Mitch Albom novels. I ended up not sleeping that night until I’d devoured every last word of wisdom and suffering Morrie had to offer. I told my family the profound meaning the book had delivered to me, and my parents were both intrigued by the book, I thought. Later that night they both read a part of the book before we all went to bed. My mom began from the beginning; my dad randomly opened the book and purely by happenstance read a page that spoke of Morrie’s imminent death and the final lesson he would teach Mitch Albom. Dad always did have a knack for heightening the drama…

This morning my dad woke me to say goodbye as he was walking out of the apartment. I then watched as my brother said his tearful goodbye and my dad quietly sobbed as he descended the stairs. I questioned the peace he said he’d made momentarily… but I think the emotion of the moment was just overwhelming for him. We watched as he climbed into the car and drove away rather quicker than expected… he must have been crying in the car. And as we silently returned to the apartment, I saw Tuesdays with Morrie was missing from the coffee table where it had been the night before. Dad had taken it with him.

Now I find myself going over the story of the book… damning the words that I so recently had cherished. All I can think of is Morrie’s acceptance of his terminal illness and his ultimate surrender unto death. The words seem like such a danger now that they are in the hands of my father — I do not want him getting any ideas of peacefully going into the light or whatever they say… And so I sit here in the dark. My tears have dried but my thoughts are determined to keep me from sleeping, I’m sure. If only Morrie Schwartz were here to offer me his perfect counsel. . .

[He came out of it okay. He’s still healing though.]

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