I hadn’t pulled I to the driveway and opened the door for my guests before the call came in.
“There was a complication during the surgery. It isn’t too good.”
I tried very hard not to be super stressed out about it. I tried to be a good hostess. Get everyone settled in before my brother and I jumped in the car and sped to the hospital to meet my mother in the waiting area of the ICU.
“Don’t freak out.” She warned us lovingly.
Pulling back the curtain, my father lay on the bed. Tubes in his mouth and running into the veins in his arms. His color was a pale grey. His eyes fluttered and suddenly they had to pull out the tubes so he could cough. Even the blue of his eyes wasn’t quite right. Blood sputtered out of his mouth. “Sorry kids.” He apologized weakly. Letting his eyes rest again we spoke softly with mom for the update. I yelled at him internally. Apologizing for coughing up blood when he could very well be dying felt far too absurd for my taste, but his blood pressure was low and his heart rate was high. To mention my offense wouldn’t have been appropriate.
The surgery was supposed to be routine. A hernia caused by some heavy lifting at work, needed to be repaired. The surgery went fine. The repair was made and it went smoothly. But, for some reason (that even the doctor couldn’t explain) he stopped breathing in recovery, which caused fluid to fill in his lungs, and cardiac arrest to set in. So now, he had to stay overnight, and it wasn’t looking good. His completion wasn’t right. His breathing wasn’t right. His heart rate wasn’t right. After about an hour, mom told us to go home to be with the guests we had left there. It felt strange. Unfounded.
In the car I found myself pleading with God. I know my father and I hadn’t had the best relationship, but now, I realized how much work it needed. How much more we needed to talk about things. How if he didn’t act interested in my life, now I needed to find ways to be interested in his. Why did it take nearly dying for me to see the necessity of our relationship? Because you never quite know what you have until it is gone. That’s why.
I got a call a few hours later. He had taken a turn for the better and would be coming home after lunch the next day. No pulmonary embolism found. No other complications. We all were relieved. I couldn’t handle losing someone else so close to the loss of a few others.
My visitors and I stayed up until nearly one in the morning talking and joking and goofing off. I felt like I had to make up for the lost time when I had been stressing out. It was healing. We were all healing from the fear and concern we felt. I was so glad they had come when they did. They helped me when I needed to be refocused. They offered hugs and affection when They didn’t have words. They offered humor, knowing it was one of my greater coping skills. They have been with me in so much. I have a profound thankfulness and love for my friends.