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Connection, Compersion, and an Aneurysm

Things I learned this weekend:

  • If you have a family cell phone plan, and one of your children dials 911, you will receive an alert about it…even if they are several states distant from you.
  • Sometimes, when our children are breaking the things we think of as “the rules,” they are actually doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing, so that they can be exactly where they’re supposed to be, when something happens that demands their immediate attention.
  • Xander saved his grandpa’s life Friday night.

I would prefer that my boys not spend ALL OF THEIR TIME on electronic devices. And I would like my growing teenagers to get a *reasonable* amount of sleep…as much before midnight as possible.

Which is to say that Xander watching Netflix on his cell phone at 1:30 am defies both of my mandates.

But because he was doing exactly what he “shouldn’t have been doing,” he happened to be the only one awake to hear his grandpa collapse in the kitchen in the middle of the night. And when Xander entered the room to investigate, he realized he needed help. So he woke his dad, who groggily tried getting his grandpa into a seated position, thinking that this would solve the problem.

But the youngest person in the family recognized the futility of his elder’s gesture and took control of the situation: he called 911.

Those precious few minutes gave his grandpa the urgent medical attention needed to see him safely through a cerebrovascular accident.

And while the rest of the family slowly woke from deep sleep as the paramedics announced their presence with noise and commotion, Xander climbed into the ambulance to accompany his grandfather to the hospital.

My marriage with Josh and Xander’s dad ended in 2003, but the relationship with my ex’s dad (Grumps) has continued long beyond that shift. Grumps has driven out to Maryland from the Midwest to spend time with his grandchildren in my home, and he has hosted them in his home over long summer vacations. In the past 14 years, he has never forgotten my birthday, follows my Facebook posts about the boys, and has always maintained a non-judgmental stance of unconditional love in my life. Grumps has remained connected to me over time and distance and emotional turmoil.

“Connection” is a curious thing.

I recently talked with my mentor about attachment and connection and shifting dynamics. About the stories we tell around abandonment, estrangement, and isolation. How relationships ebb and flow. How we can remain connected on this side of the veil, or with it floating gauzy between us. Maybe there isn’t an on-off switch to beginnings and endings, but rather a dancing closer and then further apart from one another. Perhaps we’re all on the same dance floor, whirling like Sufi dervishes, sometimes to shared music and other times to our own…maybe even to someone else’s.

Last week over dinner, a friend shared with me how he feels about his long-time, domestic partner having experiences without him. He talked about how she returns changed, and then he has the chance to rediscover her. Where some might feel jealous at being left out or sad that things are suddenly different, he is delighted to fall in love with her all over again. Seeing her anew in each moment brings him joy, keeps him present, unattached. Compersion.

On the heels of that conversation, I was prepared to discover my boys having changed ever-so-slightly from their month in the Midwest without me….but finding their Grumps lifeless on the kitchen floor is a life-altering experience.

I was Xander’s age when one of my young track coaches was killed in a car accident, and I was Josh’s age when one of my classmates suffered a fatal aneurism. Each event rocked my world, altered my trajectory. The piercing awareness that our lives are time-limited shocked me awake. Into presence. (For a heartbeat, at least.)

These teenagers are not the same people I drove through cornfields with a few weeks ago.

And maybe it’s important to remember that we are ALL never the same person we were a few weeks ago. Or even the same person as yesterday. Each *breath* is a rebirth.

Each breath is one of a finite supply.

I’m eager to hold these beings close again. Rediscover who they are. Fall back in love with their tender, courageous, broken-open selves. Maybe my distant teenagers will even dance near me.

(For a heartbeat, at least.)

3 comments on “Connection, Compersion, and an Aneurysm

  1. Patricia Lott

    Very lovely! And I learned a new word: compersion. I have experienced it so many times but didn’t know that was the word for it.

    Like

  2. Julia Carpenter

    whew! It’s a lot to hold, these amazing humans finding their own worlds as they remain so deeply anchored in our hearts. Thank you for sharing. You have raised some fine humans, my dear.

    Like

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