Perhaps this has been the most difficult thing to sort out in the past few weeks since my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. There were nights and days in the first weeks where it all felt too much to hold.
In the days when my Dad went from the ER to the Neuro unit to Mary Free Bed, we couldn’t help but wonder what life would hold now, in this new space?
My parents have made brave choices that are about living and trusting and embracing every day even with some looming unknowns. My Dad was discharged after a short rehab stay, and my parents began to grasp that there were significant changes ahead.
When I think about significant change and how that fits into our family story, this seems important to remember. These two people were both born in the Netherlands and immigrated with their families of origin, my Dad to Canada and my Mom to New Jersey. They met as young adults, married and pursued ministry and in a short time, there were four kids in tow and then a fifth. My Mom launched a very successful career in her mid 40’s, and they are now Papa and Beppe to 16 grandchildren and have a great-grandchild arriving in September. They have buried their oldest son. They are no strangers to navigating change.
And yet big change always seems to shake the foundation just a bit. Just a few weeks back after the foundation felt shaken and shifted, my Dad said he just wanted us to all live as normally as possible. At that time I would have said impossible,
But today, as I reflect on his request to us, I have a bit of a different perspective.
For the Borgdorff bunch, living normally includes a good bit of together time. So, when my Dad was in Mary Free Bed, we packed up a cooler with Easter dinner and enjoyed a different kind of Easter dinner. There were aspects of Easter that were hard and abnormal, but clearly, the best part of the day was when we were together enjoying a makeshift Easter dinner.
As my Dad impressed the socks off the therapists at Mary Free Bed with his progress, he was also working with Phil at Toman’s Auto Tech to get a used engine in my car. In the midst of a life-changing crazy week, that felt pretty normal.
This past weekend Olivia and Noah drove in from Ohio and Detroit, and we ordered pizza and met for happy hour and dinner, and we laughed a lot. It is true they came because they needed to set eyes on their Papa and Beppe, but in the end, it was filled with goodness and sweet memories, and as I think about tonight, I can confidently say, we lived normally.
Today we have 15 people gathering for Sunday dinner at my parents, and that is pretty normal as well.
This morning as the spring ice storm creates a bit of chaos on the roads, Olivia posted this, and this also feels normal.
And so as we now navigate new spaces, we will live as normally as possible. I am so grateful that our normal has been shaped by being together, embracing what comes with honesty and hope and remaining engaged with our worlds.
Thank you, Dad and Mom, for teaching us that living normally doesn’t mean denying what is real nor does it mean becoming solely focused on our own circumstances. We will continue to live, each of us in our spaces and together as a family, embracing what comes with honesty and hope!