Tiferet squared
Balancing learning and work

Taking care

What a week: anticipation, tension, relief, and aftermath.

Ethan's surgery seems to have been successful. When they let me back into the recovery room and I saw him sitting in a chair, upright and becoming alert again (right eye bandaged tightly), a fierce relief grabbed hold of me that didn't let go for hours. The unmitigated good news is that the surgeon believes they were successful in doing the work they wanted to do -- baruch Hashem and alhamdolillah! Deep thanks to all who left comments, sent emails, and have been saying prayers of all sorts on his, and our, behalf.

Since then, the week has been a bit of a roller-coaster. The surgery is over, but the recovery is just beginning, and the elation of making it through the surgery has given way to some frustration with the limitations of this post-surgical period. Slowly and surely we're finding our way. Yesterday afternoon while I was teaching Hebrew school, a friend came over to read to him for a while. He's planning and cooking elaborate menus; he can't work, exercise, or read, but at least he can cook. (As long as he stays clear of our very sharp knives...)

And I'm learning how unlike chaplaincy is the experience of watching a loved one undergo surgery. I've facilitated lifecycle events for "strangers" (folks I didn't know until they engaged me to work with them), for old friends, and for family, and those three categories feel entirely different to me. When a relationship already exists, the work can be both sweeter and more challenging. Of course, I'm not here to do the work of pastoral care! Though the chaplain part of my brain keeps pointing out how I might try to do things differently if I were.

The counsel I would offer to someone else in shoes like mine this week is this: being family to someone who's undergone trauma -- physical or emotional -- can be difficult. So be gentle with yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Do something nice for yourself. Remember that it's not your job to make things "all better" -- you can't. What you can do is be loving, and be present, and be responsive as best you can. That's all anyone could ask, and it's important work, so kol hakavod to you for doing it.

Anyway. Today is the third day after the surgery and so far, so good. Thanks to everyone who's been with us along the way.


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