Over the last six months, we have had the honor of caring for my wife Rebeckas' best friend (of 45 years!), Melody, during her cancer treatment and transition. She asked us if she could stay with us because she believed that she would receive the best care and the most loving support with us, in our home. The kind of care and support she believed she could not receive at her home in Grass Valley. We gave her our bedroom, which was perfect for her, as it has it's own bathroom and is separate from the rest of the house. Like a small apartment. We considered it an honor to have her stay with us. A profound opportunity to be of service.
We set out to make our home a sanctuary for her and all those who would come to visit and stay. Many did. For the last two months, there were no less than 5 people staying in our home and with visitors, we had as many as 15 people here at a time.
Her youngest son Pavel, visited her about two weeks before her passing. He came into our house stoic and angry, not saying a word or making eye contact. While visiting Melody, we wanted to make him (and the 6 other people visiting her) comfortable, so we brought chairs and pillows up. After I brought up a chair, Rebecka brought us some pillows. To Rebecka, Pavel said "this is your house. But this is my mother. So, keep your husband out of this room, as I'm feeling like I want to throw something through the wall!"
When she came back downstairs, I saw a look of terror on her face, like I've never seen. This saddened me greatly. I also felt great anger. I wanted to storm up there and expel him from our house. It took all my will to restrain myself from this. I didn't confront him, because I so wanted to support him in having as loving a visit with his mother as possible. I just stayed out of the way. In fact, after speaking with a few people about how to proceed, we agreed that it would be best if I wasn't visible when he came through. I tucked myself away in our sons bedroom for the duration.
Our house being a two bedroom, towards the end of Melodies life, we frequently used Elijahs' room as the only other room in the house where we could close the door. It was very magnanimous of him to share his only private space with us.
Rebecka and I had set out to make our home a place where all were welcome. We made it our focus to support all who came, with a hug, a meal, or a bed. We loved the idea of creating this sanctuary. So, to have Melodies' son come and (as we saw it) defile this temple (where his own mother had requested to stay), shocked us to our core. We were distressed for many days after his visit. It was enough to be caring for her in our small home, with a steady flow of people coming through. This was devestating.
When we finally felt some peace again, word got to us that apparently, Pavel hadn't had his "moment" with her. We witnessed many beautiful exchanges between Melody and the people who came to visit her (possibly, their last time). Each, having had their "moment:" a sharing of tears, regrets, wishes, and love.
So, word got to us that Pavel was returning. I remember it vividly, the morning that we got this news. I was doing yoga in Elijahs' room (the available room), feeling very conflicted as to how to protect my family from threats (or worse), while keeping as peaceful an environment as possible.
The plan that I approached Rebecka with was, that when he arrived, I would stand outside the front door with another adult male, with the door closed. I would say something like "you are welcome to be in our home as long as you are kind to all who are here and threaten no one." I would extend my hand, to see if he would shake it in agreement. Then, I would allow him in.
Rebeckas' response was that I should not even be visible when he arrived. Like before, it would be best if I stayed in Elijahs' room. The nurses, the social worker, the friends and family who were with us, all agreed.
I was torn. My male, husband, father, protector: gaurdian of our home wanted to take a position of strength.
It occured to me to call on those whose expertise it is to protect and keep the peace. I called the Sebastopol police station. Now, the police in this town are a fine example of peace-keepers. I have witnessed them many times, in difficult situations, where they used tact and dialogue to deescalate a situation. I told the cop my idea of standing strong in front of our sanctuary. He listened without interruption. He proceeded to tell me that the best plan would be for me to not be visible to Pavel. Why give him a target for his aggression? Just let him on through and if there was a problem, to call 911.
I was very grateful for his advice. I was also very relieved. Once again, Life had taught me that there is always a way to create peace: always a way to be peace.
"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war." ~ Albert Einstein