During my dad’s sickness and death process (April 5, 2016, was the nine-year anniversary of his death), I often believed he was intensely and horribly suffering. In the physical realm there was plenty of evidence to substantiate this.
On one memorable occasion, I noticed blood coming from his gastric feeding tube. I immediately called 911. He was admitted to ICU for a ruptured bleeding ulcer (unrelated to the progressive cancer). He eventually needed 17 pints of blood and plasma before surgery repaired the ulcer. He remained in critical condition for several days and was not expected to live.
We have a family edict, legal directives and commitment to forego any life support for the purposes of prolonging life. During every twelve-hour shift, the nurses would approach me in the waiting area of the ICU and notify me of his critical condition, inform me that he is likely to die and that, with a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order in place, they could not save him. I assured them each time that I understood clearly and was carrying out his wishes. I felt at peace and empowered by the clarity of what I believed was mine to do.
Accessing My GPS
During that ICU period, he developed a sudden lung problem that required him to go on a ventilator or die. Although his strong wishes were not to be put on a ventilator and I had agreed legally to execute those wishes, I went inside my own heart’s wisdom and asked what to do. I followed what I call intuition, guidance or an unspeakable knowing, a GPS—God Position System—that transcends the physical and emotional aspects of being. I agreed for him to be put on the ventilator.
He had been unconscious and in what is referred to as ICU psychosis (disoriented, grimacing, groaning, etc.) for more than a week and in critical condition. During this time, he had no obvious awareness of time, place or people. It was the most intense and unbearable suffering I had ever witnessed.
When they started to insert the ventilator, I was in the room and holding his hand. For the first time in weeks, he opened his eyes, looked directly into my eyes, squeezed my hand so tightly that his nails left imprints in my hand, and clearly said to me, “Stop this!” I was as calm as I had ever been and again simply went into my heart for guidance.
The intuition was to proceed even though my agreement and the well laid out care plan was to not do this very thing. I want to live without regret. I knew that not following my strong intuitive wisdom would have been an abandonment of my self and my daddy. I was willing to be accountable for my actions.
My dad came off the ventilator the next day and begin to progress. He eventually recovered from the ulcer and complicated blood loss completely. I don’t believe I will ever understand the seen and unseen miracles of our life’s journey.
On our way home from the hospital, I apologized to my dad for ignoring his wishes about ventilators and life support. I asked him how I could make it right with him and offered to be removed as his medical directive executor.
What Was I Seeing?
Surprisingly, he was unaware of what I was referring to. He had no recall or awareness of being on a ventilator. He had no memory of telling me to stop it. He had no recall or experience of any suffering. No suffering at all! In fact, he did not remember anything after we left the house in the ambulance weeks before.
He was suffering! Is that true? “The Work” of Byron Katie has taught me to question everything. When I question what is, I am not in false beliefs and a made-up story about what is occurring. Clarity, strength and wisdom that are seldom accessed can be reached and will emerge to show new possibilities.
My belief that he was suffering created suffering, especially in me as I projected it. What a relief to know that the appearance of suffering is not always suffering. When I believe they are suffering, I suffer. That exponentially increases it. When they are actually suffering, if I join their pain, again, I have exponentially increased it. Wisdom reminds me to stay free of suffering when I can. That leaves at least one of us here to serve those who need it.
I do not recommend people forego agreements or disregard commitments. I know however, that the process of humanity is not black and white and the wisdom and intuition that guides all possibility is all ways, and is always available to me when I dare to listen or be still and know.
I am still learning. Suffering is, and has been, a great teacher. Anxiety, pain and suffering are part of the human condition. In all things, and especially in suffering, God is there. I cherish that belief. I am grateful for experience.
Wisdom comes from the heart. The intellect is important, too, for it offers information, but true wisdom comes from the heart. It is in the heart that information, emotion and truth swirl together and combine to create true wisdom. Let the mind provide information when needed, but always follow your internal intuitive GPS.