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On Love, Forgiveness, and Yes – Focus

  • June 24, 2016

On Love, Forgiveness, and Yes – Focus

Posted by Mark Justin Seifert on August 22, 2012 at 3:37pm

Had I not just been paying some particular permutation of attention this morning, I may have missed what my pessimistic nature is tells me that something earlier today will likely be the indisputable high point of my day.  It also has a more poignant meaning to this cranky Marine, but I will get to that in moment.

This morning, I was lying in bed trying remain silent and still for what I maintain as pain control reasons.  From my supine position in my rack, I could clearly hear the report from down the hall of the sound of two voices in a dedicated, goal-oriented reparte’.  This daily ritual would present itself to outsiders as the uniquely humorous and melodious tune of what I might fairly describe as an intensely one-sided parental negotiation between my beautiful daughter, Sophie, and her wonderfully patient and parentally creative mother – my so very wonderful wife – Sarah.  The heart of this intense, wonderfully moving, yet wholly necessary discord of wills centered around Sophie’s most severe desire to remain in her sodden diaper and Sarah’s wholly non-arbitrarial duty to exchange said-diaper for a new one.

As parents, and indeed, as mere conscientious citizenry passing through the ebbs and flows of the ephemerality of life – our’s and others’ – there are scores of lessons to be taken, learned, reviewed, and challenged from the previous anecdote taken from course of my life’s passing today in part.  However, I have now arrived to the point in this particular dialogue, dissertation, or mere diatribe (perspective dependent) which validates the instigation of this corpus of verbiage.

You see, I have been in a rather astonishing amount of pain I the last couple of weeks.  For all practical purposes I have been profoundly useless and rather worthless to my fellow humans, my comrades and fellow Marines, my close friends, and to my ever perpetual regret: My family.


The pain overtaking my sanity and personal utility of late primarily seems to exist non-didactically as a “nerve” pain or as my doctors for some reason keep emphasizing in an almost deferentially obtuse manner, “phantom” pain.  I have little use for any particular label for the effect this simple pain has marvelously interrupted my life and invaded my relationships, friendships, my home, my family, and my marriage to my ever-wondrously beautiful Sarah.

It’s amazing how quickly we fall into habits.  I got home from the hospital, I changed sides of the bed, and we had some rails put in to at least help me get around the house on crutches a little better.  Sarah took over essentially everything administratively related to running the household.    For a short period within my immediate return to the house, I would even hobble around the house trying to be useful.  Without exception, I would overexert my plainly hurt and my still quite definitely healing body.   Assessing my situation, I could not move more than a few steps with crutches, activity beyond making my bed and cleaning myself up for the day were exerting to the extreme.  If I forgot my timing or went to sleep, I would find myself in that most excruciating pain I wrote of earlier until the medication kept it to a low hum.  Even with medicine, at this time, I fear moving too quickly or far.  Over extending these limits that are to me complete unknown, but presently very much in existence will again send me unabashedly to my most regressed state – curled up ball in unabashed tears of sheer hopelessness and despair.

Even when I was in such terrible pain in the field in Iraq, I never felt despair.  In retrospect, I can say there are two reasons for that.  First, my soul and my conscience were utterly and completely clear.  I had no worries, temporal or spiritual.  The second reason I believe I never felt despair when I was lying bleeding in Iraq was that I had so little (in my wondrously immature and unwise mind) worry.  That day then to now: I had no worries of life, friends, or family.  I was fine then.

Now.  Now is different.  I have a family.  I have my Sarah.  I have my Sophia.  I have my yet unborn child, may God watch over both children into my arms and their mother’s for many, many fruitful years.

Beyond the immediately corporeal realities of now, I have my responsibilities.  I have my needs to fulfill.  I have duties family and more.  Honor must be upheld. Care must be given to they who need it.  I have oaths to uphold.

Back to today.  The quietly silly tumult of a regular Wednesday morning’s preparation to leave for daycare at Grandma’s was coming to its inevitable conclusion.  If called, I knew she would come into my bedroom and want to climb onto me which would hurt quite a lot.  However, I missed her so much and I called to Sophie before she left.  She didn’t hear me at first, but her momma relayed the message that I was calling “I love you, have a good day” to my wondrous little girl.  To my immediate pleasure, Mother and Daughter came to my bed.  Sarah simply stood there smiling, also knowing that same thing I did, and to watch out as Sophie did what little girls do when given license to jump on momma and daddy’s bed.  To my delight, she took off one of her shoes and with the most innocent smile said, “Now I have one shoe too, daddy”.   Sophie has seen me occasionally having to leave the house and I naturally wear one shoe, on my good leg.  Sophie then proceeded to climb up onto the bed where I was laying.  She grabbed my leg at one point, and it hurt, but Momma interceded quickly.  I was taking my morning rest from the knee-immobilizing brace I normally wear in addition to my compression stocking (prescription-strength pantyhose).  Having ceded to an earlier confrontation with her Mother, Sophie was wearing a pretty dress and her Cinderella shoes, with her hair done up.  She was so pretty.  She saw my stump.  She knows daddy is sick and needs to heal.  However, at one point while crawling over daddy like she and I like to do, she feels my stump with her hand and says “I like your leg daddy, it’s soft”.  To what I realized was relief, my little girl was not repulsed by her dad’s new leg.  Sarah (among others) have been admonishing me for days to take it easy on myself and that our little girl will accept all of us for whom and what we are.  I have been hiding in the bedroom under the auspices of “pain” to spare my family from my physical impurities and the inherent negative effects on them inflicted by association.  Yet again I had managed to forget that quintessential lesson:  My family doesn’t need the Marine right now.  My family needs the dad and husband.  Besides, when we do need the Marine, he’ll be right there always (thanks, Tom) and I believe that.  For now, dad is healing and needs time and rest to heal: that’s okay.  My Focus ought to be on healing and getting stronger and being a good father in the middle.  My Goal for now is recovery – on time, and on schedule.  If I’m lulling my days away beating myself up because I’m not perfect right now, I’m not doing anyone any good – especially the ones who need me the most, like my children and wife.

The pain may come and go.  I only get one chance with my family, though.  I was giving myself so many reasons why I was a failure, why the pain was too hurtful, and why I was meant to be stuck in a bed-ridden rut.

The honest truth is that I lost sight of my Goals – immediate, short, long range – and my Focus had shifted not to my goals and the direction of the needs for recovery, but towards that dangerous tempting sump of self-loathing and self-pity.  Being thoroughly thick-headed, it took me a few tries get those words into my brain, but I am so grateful for the community of friends, my forgiving Wife, and most importantly a very special small two-year-old lady who reminded me that I’m still who I’ve always been, just a  little different. No matter what.  –Thanks Kiddo, I love you

To all else, As always: Semper Fidelis

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