Georgia is having minor surgery tomorrow morning to remove two chalzia, plural form of chalazion. Everyone in our family thinks the name sounds like a delicious treat. It’s not. It’s a stye gone bad. The stye appeared during the first week of her middle school career. Over the next two months it grew to the size of a dime. She tried to cover it with her bangs and concealer but nothing really stopped the questions about the thing on her eye.
We went to experts and tried drops, creams and endless heated compresses made of socks filled with dried peas – anything to avoid surgery. After two months it ruptured – gross – and partially healed. The thing re-grouped, came back more tenacious, and brought a chalazion along with it. Her pediatric ophthalmologist, the smartest, spunkiest, polly-pocket of a woman, decided that surgery was the only option left.
This is a minor operation but Georgia is still going to be under general anesthesia. The paper work spells out all the what-if’s and then asks for my signature. A signature that gives permission for others to do their best with my full knowledge that scary things can happen.
I circle around at the Buddhist notion of non-attachment. Parenting is an ultimate practice exercise. Attachment implies there is an attacher and a separate object of attachment, be it a thing, person, or feeling. Non-attachment is not unkind or joyless. The Buddha taught that separation was an illusion, that there was only unity. In this oneness there can be no attachment, the source of all suffering. My grabby mind can understand this concept but it’s a struggle.
My first night of being a parent I had a lucid dream that is the level measurer of my attachments, particularly with my kids. We had just moved to Minneapolis a few months before I gave birth to Leo. We hadn’t made friends yet and family would come later. There was not one visitor. It was just me, Matthew and Leo and the quiet of the snowfall. We fell asleep together in the same room. In my dream I saw myself floating in a starry peaceful universe, Earth below. My torso was elongated and my arms and legs stretched in opposite directions. I could see the twinkling lights through my body as if it were a window. I remember feeling a continuity – no beginning or end.
At the time I didn’t know to call it non-attachment. I have tried to paint my dream on canvas and write what I felt but my efforts never truly translate. I conjure up the image in my mind’s eye at times I want to clutch to my children with my pride, anger, fear, conditional love. I remember my role. I am portal, a guide. They are not mine, we are one.
Today I sign the papers and pay fees for the facility, doctors and nurses to care for my sweet girl. My Georgia who giggles and flaps her arms when given laughing gas at the dentist. I worry and wonder about her reaction to the anesthesia. I have an attachment to fear, for sure. When tomorrow morning comes I will sit and try to remember that feeling of floating, of unity – wait and trust.
I took the photo this evening at the Austin Zen Center.