They say there is nothing like a brush with death to make you feel fully alive.
Yesterday was one of those crazy days where I finally got work after a very quiet time over the school holidays. And of course it was the day that my mother had surgery. And didn’t I just leave my phone at home, got to work and realised so had to fang it back to my place, collect my phone and get back to work, before anyone noticed! Stressed or what???
But it turns out I had a great day, working with some pretty fabulous students, looking at TV comedies for English, Healthy Burgers for Food Tech, then later some technical drawings for Furniture-making. So I was waiting for a call from the surgeon to say all was good, keeping my phone on while asking students to put theirs away (moral high ground completely lost). On the end of day bell, I headed off, getting home in record time, snipping a stem of orchids and heading off to the hospital, getting a park outside then hitting a few really helpful people for directions. The woman at the desk at Emergency saw the stem of orchids and “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed while looking Mum up on the computer so I broke off one orchid for her and heading in the direction she indicated.
Getting into the lift and of course there were some older women who appreciated the orchids too, complimenting me on my gardening expertise. I had to admit how I neglected the plants but they thrived despite me. They both laughed.
The nursed on Mum’s ward “ooh”ed and “ahh”ed too, one running off to get a vase. I looked in on Mum, sleeping off the anesthetic, looking perhaps the most vulnerable I had seen her since her partner’s death. Her hair was flat, her mouth open, her skin seemed papery, pale and blotchy, and her bottom lip was swollen, most likely from the intubation from surgery. The realisation that she needs more help and perhaps that I need to be more hands on hit me. Along the left side of her neck was a 10cm-long bandage with an eye-shaped blood stain along it, and a few tubes ran from her nose, and under the bandage, as well as from her right arm. She was sleeping peacefully but at an awkward angle, seemingly avoiding the wound on her neck.
This felt like a practice run, like we were all so lucky she pulled through. As she awoke, I held her hand and we talked. I explained the orchids were from Curly’s orchids, via Mum and my friend, Donna. She seemed buoyed by them, and couldn’t quite believe that she’d made it through the surgery. She couldn’t stop saying how amazing it was that they could do such a surgery and she didn’t seem to have any problems.
I hope she stays well for a long time yet, though I know it won’t be forever. Just a little more time with her would be great. I don’t think she’s ready to depart and I’m certainly not ready to lose her either.