I wrote this while I was on the plane earlier on my way to Cali to see dad and be with my step mom to help her through these first days of dad's transplant. At this point, Dad is recovering, they've removed the breathing tube from his throat, he's hungry and asking for tacos and burgers...but then reminding us that he's just kidding, as he knows he's not allowed to eat food like that yet. He's high as a kite, but he's so, sooo grateful that he's here. As are we, of course.
Well, I’m on my way to Stanford by way of San Francisco to be with my step mom and see my dad now that he’s had his surgery. Apparently, the surgery started at about 9 PST on Friday night, and didn’t end until 7 a.m. Saturday morning. It’s a surgery that’s supposed to last 5 – 7 hours, so going 3 hours beyond the max it was supposed to kind of worries us. There were complications, Twin told me prior to me getting on the plane. That’s all she knew at that point…and then I needed to shut my phone off.
I’m flying over the Rockies right now, and they’re covered in varying patterns of snow. It looks very inviting and peaceful to me right about now. I can’t help but feel a little numb while going through this, after the months of waiting for it to happen…it finally is. I can’t believe my dad was lucky enough to be a recipient. I can’t believe he’s going to have this chance. I’m so grateful, I feel like my heart could burst!
But I’m trying to keep it together. I got mixed up at the airport, and parked next to the wrong tunnel to the terminal and wound up walking and walking to get to the Midwest check-in counter. Just as I arrived there, two huge groups entered the line to check baggage. I apparently stepped into line in the middle of one of them (just a group of 4, but they were older women and all giddy with the prospect of their trip, so it made it seem like there were more than that of them) because 2 of the women knew what they were doing, and the other 2 were idiots and stopped right before entering the line for some reason or another. Then they started talking across me, and the one behind me said she was just going to pass me since they were traveling together and were all on “the same sheet” and everything. I was all, Whatever, and stepped aside. Then I noticed they were talking to another one behind me, and then she passed something to one of them, and I stepped aside and said, “Oh go past me already, why don’t you?” Apparently she thought it would be less rude to just talk around me and pass boarding passes past me, etc…
I wasn’t in the mood. I almost started to cry, but I held it together. I was hot and tired and too many things were going through my head all at once – should I just leave my coat in the car, or would I need it in San Fran? Should I have parked in the long term parking by the terminal? What if I wind up being gone for longer than just 3 days? At $18 a day, the convenience of it seems to get outweighed by the ridiculous if I’m gone for a week. What was happening with dad? Was he ok? Should I get something to eat? Was I even hungry? Why didn’t I bring my umbrella? Do I really care if I get wet when moving from the hospital to my car and back again? Maybe I can get an umbrella at the airport in San Fran.
Too much…too much. And it’s probably nothing compared to what’s going through my step mom’s head with all of this. And she’s alone, and didn’t have anyone there with her while dad was in surgery except the family of the woman that was receiving the other lung that was being donated. But she was out of surgery by 3 a.m., which made her family happy, but worried my step mom even more than she had been before. No one was telling her what was happening. No one was coming out to let her know whether dad was ok, or what the hold up was, or whether he was still alive. She just had to wait.
Which is what I wound up doing at the airport. My flight was scheduled to leave at 9:40, but due to foggy conditions in San Fran (dammit San Fran! Why do you have to have such fucked up weather all the freaking time, huh?), we were delayed until 10:55. But then we boarded by 10:10 anyway, and got off the ground soon after. The headwinds are even against me, it seems. The strength of them is extending our flight by a good 15 – 20 minutes, so now we’ll land at 12:15 instead of the originally planned 11:30. Delaying me from being able to help comfort my step mom, as well as my comfort of being with someone else while we go through this incredibly sketchy experience. I had to say goodbye to Leo this morning about an hour before I needed to leave myself…he went to work to worry about what will happen and how I’m doing as he deals with the regular “fun” of a front of house staff that just doesn’t get him, and the customers that come with them.
And I’m tired. And I got to sleep! I can’t even imagine how exhausted my step mom is.
Last night as I started to try to fall asleep, I had the image of my father on the operating table pop into my mind. His chest was open and the doctors were working on him. It was creepy and it was all too real, and it made me wonder if it was the same time his surgery was getting under way. (I think I was ahead by about a half hour, but I can’t remember when I climbed into bed, so there’s no guarantee of that.) As usually happens with visions like that, I snapped my eyes open to try to make it go ‘way. It did. And before I closed them again, I spoke to my mom and asked her to be with me…and then quickly changed that to say that she needed to be with dad, so forget about me. (I always think of me first! I’m such an asshole like that…) I focused on imagining him after the surgery after that, even with the tubes and wires and everything set up around him and going into him, it was a better image than the surgery. I don’t do well with blood…or open chests.
I want to cry right now, but like the moments before when I’ve wanted to cry, there’s something in me holding it back. I need to be strong for my step mom, and for my dad, and be there to communicate with my sisters and brother that can’t be there at the same time. Dad didn’t want ANYONE going there, but that was just silly. I don’t care if he doesn’t let me see him…I’m going there to be with my step mom and give her the support she undoubtedly needs, and to do whatever she needs me to do for her while I can. I also think dad will change his mind and be fine with family being near by. I don’t understand his logic on not wanting people there, but I’d imagine it has something to do with his desire not to interrupt people’s lives, or some shit. Also, if we all were able to descend on the area as easily (well, relatively, anyway) as I can, it’d be a swamp of Smiths up in there with the kids and the brother and sisters and everything. I’m hoping that maybe…just maybe, my step mom’s sister might be able to come up and be with her. We’ll see.
Thanks for all the comments, everyone. I’ll let you know what’s up when I can. The Twin is updating regularly as well, so feel free to mosey over there (her blog is “How Do You Say…” on the roll) to catch up on shit, too.
I’m going to go try to get lost…oh, evil iPod shuffle has shuffled me to Ani’s version of Amazing Grace. My mother has the funniest ways of reaching out to me, I swear. And now I’m definitely gonna need a cry.