Life lately has been a series of moments,so I have no idea why having "a moment" today would surprise me. It's black Friday weekend. I won't dignify that with capital letter status. I won't vent my feelings about shopping madness, bargain hunting or tacky behavior. I will say, being a retail lifer, that I was scheduled to work this weekend. And Friday I did. I went to bed at 8ish on Thanksgiving night so that I would be fresh as a daisy for my 5 a.m. work time the next day. Saturday morning dawned much the same. I arrived at work, began sorting paperwork and then...my mother called. My dad was having issues and needed to go to the hospital. I needed to take him. He wouldn't go without me making him.
Off we went. The initial check-in was uneventful. We were placed in a room with two patient beds, a thin curtain separating us from our neighbor. Which was fine. Until our neighbor decided he had to pee. In the room. In a bottle. Loudly. Awkward doesn't begin to express sitting there having a conversation with your father while obvious pee sounds (and smells) come from five or six feet away.
Time passes. Our neighbor goes home. A new neighbor arrives and leaves. Dad has tests, sees the doctor, and sees the doctor again. We wait. And a new patient arrives. Brought in by EMTs. Along with his daughter and son. While the man is able to speak in the beginning, it becomes obvious within a few minutes that he is less and less responsive. The daughter shares with the nurse that her father has stage four brain cancer. Was given sixteen weeks to live close to two years ago. After a few more moments, he begins to convulse.
It is the worst sound I have ever heard.
And it seemed to go on forever. People rushing around, calling for bite blocks, medications, daughter and son standing by helplessly, all while this unearthly groaning and gasping comes forth from this poor man's body. Finally the medications silence his moans but I can still see his body seizing through the opening in the curtain. He continues to do so the remainder of the time that we are in the room with him. While his daughter discusses his DNR order. While the cancer doctor talks about living in a comatose state isn't really living. While the nurse apologizes to the son for what he's witnessed and the son replies that "unfortunately, you get used to it."
We left for our room (dad had been admitted to the hospital), and we left this family behind. They will, however, continue to be in my prayers.
We headed to his room. Got him settled. One of his doctor's came by and was very encouraging and optimistic. If he does well tonight, he will go home tomorrow. After eating peanut butter and crackers, he declared that he wanted to take a walk. (One of the blessings for him is that he isn't attached to any machines and can wear his own clothes.) I decided to take a moment to call Josh and then head home on the hospital phone as he and my mom walked down the hallway. After leaving a message for Josh, I walked out of the room and looked down the hall. And saw a scene that captured my heart.
See, my mom and dad bicker. Nitpick. Fuss. Argue. A lot. It's aggravating sometimes. But today, as I saw them, I was reminded that they love each other dearly. They were leaning against the glass wall, bodies curved toward each other, Mom smiling as dad gestured and talked, all with the afternoon sun shining over the tops of their heads. It was such a sweet picture, one that I will carry in my heart and mind for a long, long time.
Which makes it a good day after all.