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August 19, 2006: Rising

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My little sister called last night to say she was flying down because she needed to be *here* for this, so I picked her up this morning and we went to the hospital pretty much straight from the airport so we could be with my mom. The surgery took over five hours, and I cannot imagine having to sit there, waiting, alone. I think it was better for all three of us to be there together. We talked and laughed and asked the cardiac nurse a million questions when she came in to give us an update and we did a little bit of crying too, but managed to time it just right so only one of us was crying at a time. I brought my knitting because I knew I would do better with something to keep my hands busy - just focus on the stitches and the pattern and not on the clock and how it was going so slow and how it seemed like they should have come out to tell us it was done by now, minute after endless minute.

My dad had six bypasses done, which is a number that is high enough that if I think about it long enough I will start crying again so I am just thinking to myself 'multiple bypasses' and when it comes to the number there is a little bit of 'la la la la' going on in my head and maybe that makes me silly but I don't care. The important part isn't the number anyway; it's that he went through the surgery with flying colors and the surgeon came out to say that it went really well, and everyone else kept telling us how well it had gone and how pleased they were with how he was doing.

They took him to ICU and told us we could see him in half an hour, so we got lunch at the hospital cafeteria and then went upstairs. I thought I was prepared for it because the cardiac nurse showed us a picture of what we would see - this figure in the bed with all the tubes and the machines - but I wasn't prepared for how it would look on him. He looked so small and frail and still and my sister and I kind of lost it a little in the hallway outside his room, standing there holding each other without making any noise until we could pull it together again and not cry. He was still pretty much out when we saw him and he was doing a little coughing from the tube and my mom and I could tell it was really freaking out my sister even though she was trying really hard to stay calm. So my sister and I went and sat in the waiting area and we talked a little about all the crazy things that kept popping into our heads ever since we first found out about this, last night.

My mom wanted to stay until he woke up, so my sister and I headed home. We stopped at Ben & Jerry's on the way because we were both in serious need of some comfort food and ice cream is definitely comfort food. Then we went to the grocery store and bought all the ingredients for pizza fondue and peach pie and came home and my little sister, who is a pstry chef, made the pie. My sole contribution was to hand her things from the cupboard and also take care of the crust, and let her roll her eyes at me because I do not own a pastry brush.

My sister and I were planning on eating dinner and then going back to the hospital to sit with my mom and see my dad if he was up to it, and also to bring her some pie and a tomato from her garden (because we stopped by my parents' house on the way home and yes, this time I not only remembered that they have the alarm system, I managed to enter the right code and turn it off before any alarms went off and police were called) so she could share a little of the comfort too. But my mom just called and she is headed home, or actually, home first and then to our house to join us for fondue and pie. They've removed the breathing tube several hours ahead of schedule and my dad is responding to simple questions and he recognized my mom and has even been doing just a little teasing with the nurses, although he doesn't stay awake for more than a few minutes because he's still feeling the effects of the anesthesia. About halfway through the conversation my older sister called so I had one phone on each ear, on the line with my mom on the house phone and my older sister on the mobile phone, and it felt really good to pass on the good news and have such a good reason to laugh.

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