Today was an exceptionally hard day. Possibly the hardest day I have had since Daddy became sick.
This person, this person who looks like my father – this is not Daddy. Would Dad intentionally make me cry? No. No, I am sure he would not. However, this person, the one who looks like my father – that is just what he did today.
His surgery was on Dec 4th. He remained in a coma-like condition until Dec 12th (even though sleep-inducing meds had been removed for days). For the first couple of days after the 12th he would open his eyes and try to mutter words. There was the morning where we were called and told that he had stopped breathing and chest compressions had been performed. There were days when we rejoiced over small steps like his recognizing us and mouthing our names. Tears of happiness, anger and sadness could all three be shed in a single day. The emotional roller coaster is perplexing and never-ending.
My sister had to return home after over a week, one of my very dearest of friends came for an evening and then my betrothed and my daughter came for the weekend. Now it is just me. I am the one who has refused to buy cigarettes, the one who limits his salt intake and makes sure his blood sugar is kept to a manageable standard. So, I (oftentimes) get the brunt of his angst. Sometimes he realizes it and apologizes. Sometimes not. The phrase ICU Psychosis has been tossed about. It is thought that when he is moved to a regular room where the bells, beeps and whistles associated with the constant attention paid in the ICU – when all of that has been removed, then maybe he will resume a state of rest (consider his being sleep deprived, the same thing used as torture overseas). Maybe then all of the fuzziness that surrounds his mind will clear and my Dad will return front and center and my world will be righted.
I try to not be selfish and think of me (I hear Jan saying “Marhsa, Marsha, Marsha” as I think this out loud). But it is hard not to throw my own personal pity party (and I hate myself at times for it). See, I am in love. I have truly found the man I was made to love for the rest of my life. This was supposed to be the happiest of times for me. Yet the end of summer, Halloween, Mander’s birthday, my birthday, Thanksgiving and now Christmas and possibly New Year’s have all been limited or missed. I am making reservations for my wedding in the library of an old hotel that has been converted to house the families of hospital patients. I am entering my third week in residence here. Much longer and I will have to advise the post office of an address change (insert pessimistic chuckle).
This old hotel is known as “Hospital Hospitality House” (HHH). There are a number of us here. We all have sad stories: a mom with a 21-year-old daughter who collapsed at the hospital and is drifting between this world and the next because a cause cannot be found, transplant patients by the scores, families of a patient with the cancer newly removed and hope restored, the kid who walks ten blocks every day to the hospital because his patience wanes while waiting for the transport van. The list seems endless. But we all have something in common: we are all slightly damaged, we are all in this together and we all want to go home for Christmas. Sound familiar? To me it sounds reminiscent of the toys on the Island of Misfits.
So my feeling sorry for myself is always interrupted by the reminder of “it could be so much worse”. I see this reminder in the care-worn faces of these wonderful people who all, like me, hold on to hope. Some have a stronger hold than others. This House is built with more than bricks. It is built with Hope, Faith and Love.
Much love to every one of you. I hope your holidays are coming along as planned. Raise a glass of eggnog for me and hold tight your loved ones.