March 19, 2013
My mom was operated 3 times because of her cancer. The first time I was 8 years old (in 1994) and my only memory is of visiting my mom right before she was operated. I brought her some kind of cake I had made at school to cheer her up. The second time I was a couple of years older and I remember waiting and pacing outside of the operating room with my girlfriends. These are vivid memories. The third time, though, is still fresh in my head. I was 15 years old. Through all the suffering and ordeal, the only thing my parents asked of me was to go to school and do well. I did. And that morning, the morning Mom was getting operated for the third time, I went to school. Coincidentally, our English class assignment that day was about Ernest Hemingway and Stream of Consciousness. The teacher asked us to go one by one in front of the class for a minute and reveal our stream of consciousness, or whatever thoughts were crossing our mind that exact moment. While my classmates revealed their fear and shyness of speaking and being in front of the class, I had only one thought in mind - Mom. When it was my turn, I lasted about 10 seconds in front of everyone before turning my heels, crying, and running to the bathroom. I can still recall hearing the English teacher asking my friends what was wrong with me. I hid in the bathroom until I gathered enough strength and then made arrangements to go home early. It was quiet when I got home with a pending gloominess hovering our house. I went to the place I felt most safe - my room. I had no news, had no idea what was going on. I grabbed my rosary, kept it between my fingers, went to bed, and sobbed until I fell asleep. My last thoughts were of me begging to keep my mom alive and with me. She pulled through then but was taken away from me two years later. In 2002, after 8 long years of fighting, we had lost the war and she closed her eyes for the final time. 💔
My dad was operated this morning. At 8:00 AM, Dad called to say they were taking him in. I remember how I kissed his forehead yesterday. That was my first time to do that ever. On the phone, I told him I'd come see him as soon as I could. After that, I couldn't move, I couldn't talk, I couldn't do anything. I just wanted to stay in bed, rosary in my hand, sobbing in my pillow. A familiar position I had been in 10 years ago to find my comfort.
Getting updates about Dad was impossible. Family members are encouraged to get in touch with the ICU to get updates, but they were out of reach. As each hour passed, I told myself that if no one contacted me by now, it must have meant that Dad's surgery went well and he's doing okay. No news is good news, as they say in France. But there was still a voice full of uncertainty and worry at the back of my head. I waited to be able to call to know if I could come over, but by 4:30 PM, I had absolutely no update! Visits at the ICU are allowed by 5 PM, so I just decided to go, even if there was a chance I couldn't go in.
I waited and waited at the door. I talked to another visitor and he told me that maybe it might be too soon to visit. A nurse later came out to see me. I asked her if I could come in and see Dad. I searched her face for any clues, before I asked her the big question. Is he okay?
"He's fine," she reassured me, "he might not be able to talk to you as he still has his tube in, but he's fine. The surgery went well. Leave your things here, put on the scrubs, and wash your hands please. I'll be back to get you."
I let out a deep breath, as if wanting to expel bad air out of my lungs. Bad air I was keeping since the morning.
"Looks like he will be talking to you after all. My colleague just removed his tube. Come in."
He was smiling when I went into his room. I couldn't help but smile as well. He was attached to tubes everywhere. I would have been frightened, but he continued to smile looking at me. Trying to reassure me.
"I made it through."
"You did, Dad." Thank you, Lord. 🙏
P.S. At the time, Dad's major worry was not being able to wake up after the surgery. Little did we know that the hardest part was coming next and we were in for quite a challenging year. 😢
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