I don’t mean to dwell in the past, but certain timely landmarks occur, or recur, and…
I remembered last night that 10 years before, we were at Boston Children’s Hospital waiting for Erin to have surgery. At some point after he was settled, a nurse informed us that only one parent could remain in the room. I was shuffled to the game room, where a sofa sufficed. The hospital’s heating system blew steam all night long, which sounded like rain in a tropical forest. It was in fact snowy outside. Sleeping thru that, and the day’s events, was hallucinogenic.
Around 4 or 5 am, I was roused because Erin was off to surgery. However long that took, he emerged in cranky confusion from the anesthetic. I recall sitting in Erin’s dark room after, with the tv going, alternately watching Hilary Duff and other Disney Channel hijinx (living to tell the tale), and dozing while he slept.
That night Beth and I watched the fireworks of First Night over Boston Harbour from the hospital window (sorry for the string of prepositional phrases). I was again kicked out, only this time my sleeping arrangement was already in use. I tried dozing in chairs in the hallway, and the floor. Finally, I found an unused gurney. Luckily I was not whisked away.
Erin was given morphine intravenously. At one point he had us laughing as he discovered how to cross his eyes. At another he startled us by declaring, This morphine’s fun. Time to remove the tube.
There was a lot of downtime during our stay. Hospitals = downtime. I periodically ran up and down the ten stories of stairs for exercise. Woo hoo. The lobby held one of those perpetual motion machines with balls timelessly moving along tracks and thru tubes. I added to Days Poem every day. I read Princess Casamassima (say, does that name mean Big House?).
The worst day was when Erin was supposed to go home. An ambulance awaited but the surgeon took a last look at the pins holding Erin’s femur together and decided one was infected. Soupy was the scientific term that he used (aptly). Surgery was called for, and two more pins replaced the infected one. It was a devastating rebuff at the time.
That surgery left Erin with a a hole the width of a quarter in his thigh, right down to the bone. It was initially packed with gauze. One day a doctor on rounds came to examine the wound. Before removing the gauze the said that it might feel a little odd. He pulled seemingly yards of gauze from the wound, all the while Erin screamed in pain. Beth and I had to hold him as he screamed.
That was the second time we had to hold him while he screamed. The first time was when he was transported from Emerson Hospital. Erin’s leg had to be stabilized. The EMTs said it would hurt. Erin said, promise to stop if it hurts too bad, and the EMT said, I cannot promise that. Of course he could not.
These events are unique in the sense that they happened in such a way, in such an order, etc, but life proffers such unities to all. By unities I mean points of integration with others. We become one as we tell our stories. I guess I will resist positing further import than that. It is enough.