I found the peanut butter in fridge this morning. My brain escapes me at times and I shuffle about on auto pilot. I read to Colton for his homework. I check it off the list. I make small talk with the neighbors about how late the sweet corn is this year. But I am tripped up when they mention dinner. I search my brain... did I? Did I remember to make dinner? Colton says no, Grandma made eggs for him. A check mark for dinner.
We brought my father home from the hospital the other night. I want to breathe a sigh of relief. His spirits are good. He makes jokes with the nurse. His oxygen drops low when he moves about the room, getting prepared to leave. We make him sit and take deep breathes to stop the alarm on the monitor. The levels slowly rise, as the nurse encourages "thats right, just keep breathing." And Dad says "Believe me, I plan to!" We all crack up.
Mom and I pack up his gear. His new c-pap machine is giving us fits. We can't seem to get it disconnected from the table its resting on. My dad cranes his neck to examine what we are not seeing. "Well," he says, " just unplug the power supply, and you won't have to take the whole thing apart." He accomplishes in seconds, what we struggle with for what seems like hours.
The motions we go through are the same. Mom and I could pack up the "hospital accoutrement" in our sleep, having grown accustomed to the routine of admission and discharge over the last 3 years. But the language has changed this time. There is a perceptible shift in whats not being done, whats not being ordered, whats not being said.
I am sitting in Dad's room when the doctors arrive. They begin discussing his case in the hallway outside of his room. Fragments of sentences work their way into the room in the space surrounding the chair I am sitting on. "Does he know?" A male voices asks. "I think he does." Says, another male voice. The air grows heavier with these bits of words that don't belong in a conversation about my dad. I hear "contact hospice," and "heart failure." As the room begins to close in on me, the nurse comes back in to help dad get dressed. I use this reason to escape the confines of the suddenly stifling room.
I sit in the family room, a battle waging between the denial in my brain, and the betrayal of my body now shaking. We knew this was coming some day. Congestive Heart failure eventually wins. And oh how we have battled.
With the time for the school bus to come home looming in front of me, I go to quickly say goodbye. I'm composed for the moment. My Dad acknowledges that a hospice worker is coming to see him tomorrow, but he firmly states, "I am feeling good." "I look good don't I?" He is scanning my face for confirmation. I am relieved I can honestly answer "you look good, dad, you look good." And that is all that is said.
I find out later that evening that there was confusion about dad's discharge papers and my mom left without them. The lady from hospice came to meet with dad yesterday at home but said she won't know how to proceed until the paperwork comes in the mail. So while I attended a meeting at school, the kids played at Grandpa's house. He insisted they come. How can I say no?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even though in the meantime the peanut butter is in the fridge and the kids may or may not have eaten. The sky is still blue and the sun is shining. My dad is doing well at home. His spirits are good. Mom is taking him to deliver some more invites to his party. We're doing okay.
And I am praying... for a lot of things right now. Mostly, I am hoping for courage to find me somewhere in the night.
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