Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Holding on, and holding it in...

My mom was in a coma before I could make it to Belgium. She died not of the cancer that she had just beaten (for the second time), but of a hospital slip-up. No trace of cancer could be found in her body, but her immune system was weakened because of all the chemo she'd had. The hospital gave her an unsterilized catheter, however, that spread bacteria throughout her weakened body. By the time they figured out what had happened, and could introduce antibiotics, it was too late. Organ by organ shut down, until her heart gave out. I was there to hold her hand for her last two days, remembering that only two weeks earlier, she was telling me how great she was finally feeling and how happy she was that her hair was growing back. The last conversation we'd had on the phone was about recipes. I called her to get one, and she gave me four. I'm glad she did. I stayed in Belgium with my dad until her funeral there, and then flew home to prepare for the family funeral in Iowa (my dad's home state).

Not long after the second funeral, my husband and I noticed something wrong with our son--this turned out to be an inguinal hernia, resulting from a weak abdominal wall. One surgery later, we woke up one night to hear a whimpering coming from the nursery. When I checked, he had a fever of 103. I called the doctor, who recommended that I admit him to the hospital for observation. He was afraid that my son had sustained an infection somehow from the surgery. (This turned out, instead, to be a simple virus--probably something he picked up at the doctor's office. ) While there at the hospital, the nurses took my son's temperature every four hours, and were in no way sensitive to the fact that he had just had surgery. When he resisted, they held him down, and this is when I believe that his surgical stitching gave way, ripping open his hernia again. Now we have to go through the whole process of surgery all over again. And all of this compounded with the fact that we have no health insurance. Not a happy time.

A ray of light: my best friend from high school flew from Dallas to be with me for a couple of days. We took a much-needed respite to Athens, GA, for the day, and sat outside talking at my favorite little BYOB Cuban place. (The Salsa Rock Cafe). We pulled into town listening to the Smiths, and all was well. We caught up on our ever-evolving attitudes toward my role as Mom and her job at Dallas Morning News Online. Pitfalls and pluses.

We talked about blogs, and why people feel compelled to write/read them. We also discussed why people seem to develop this strange, unmerited sense of closeness with strangers when some details of people's private lives are given.

We talked very little about high school. They weren't really our glory days, to say the least. On the contrary, we felt as if it was us against the world during most of that time, which is probably why we've continued to maintain our friendship with such stubborn tenacity. We felt smarter, more savvy, and mildly superior to those others in our midst. Our seeming hatred for everyone else bonded us in a most peculiar way. I spent a lot of time in her basement the year my mom was in the hospital for cancer the first time; I couldn't bear to be home alone. And she taught me how to do my first tequila shot on my sixteenth birthday. (She was a year older and wiser, and she forgave my ignorance.) We talked more about college, her time at Texas A&M, and my time at University of Georgia. She flew back to Dallas, and I began to tear up. Then I sucked it back in. I'm afraid that if I let one tear go now, it will unleash the torrent that has been building for years. Too many people are counting on my stability.

0 Things not left unsaid: