Mom insisted her boyfriend drop her off at the hospital and then he go to work. We were all to go about our business and not waste our time, sitting and worrying while she was in surgery. Someone would call us when she was out and then we could come down to see her. She was clear in her direction and she was also clear about who was running the show. She was going to tell us what she wanted and we were to respect it. She was the one who was sick. It was her prerogative.
So I did the part she would notice: I didn’t show up at the hospital prior to her going in for surgery. I took the day off from work and figured I’d dawdle around the house and then head out a couple of hours before she was expected to be out of surgery. My sister, who was in another state, insisted I go down sooner, so I did. After all, Mom was in surgery and wouldn’t know I was in the waiting room.
I hung out in the cafeteria with my newspaper, food and iPod, pretending to be in the airport, not the hospital. At first the wait wasn’t so bad. It really was like sitting in an airport, waiting for your connecting flight. I ate, read and people watched. There was a lot of hustle and bustle going on around me. But as it got closer to the fourth hour, I started to get restless. Fifth hour. I moved to the official waiting room area. It was packed. Everyone looked tired and uptight. They were all waiting for news about someone they loved. We were all in the same boat, but we all sat quietly, not talking and trying not to look at one another.
Sixth hour. Mom’s boyfriend and my sister are concerned. I’m the only one there and I have no news to report. I’m uncomfortable sitting in the waiting room and have run out of ways to entertain myself. Back to the cafeteria. A new prayer begins: Lord, I think I’ve been wasting my life. If it’s time for me to really start living, please let me know. If that means I should start dating, please give me a sign. I don’t want to, but if that’s in your will I’ll do it. Don’t let me waste an opportunity to learn from my mom’s horrible experience.
Seventh hour. Her boyfriend will be there soon. My sister is trying to keep it together. I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t even have anyone to talk to because there are only two people who know what’s going on: My ex-boyfriend, whom my mom thought of as one of her own, and one of my best friends and she’s at work.
Eighth hour. Now I’ve got my mom’s boyfriend to deal with. He’s a great person, but he has feelings too and I’m already feeling a bit frayed.
Ninth hour. The doctor come out and pulls us into a little room. He tells us that they were surprised by what they found when they cut her open. They tried to remove whatever they could but the cancer spread to the liver. It wasn’t a single tumor that could simply be removed. It was sprinkled on top like the cinnamon on a crumb cake. Her boyfriend asks if she survived the surgery. I knew she did. I got that from what the doctor had been saying. I can’t believe he asked that. I suddenly feel like an adult. I’m 33 years old, I have a good, full-time job and I live on my own. To me, that constituted being an adult. But now with mom being sick and in a worst situation than expected, it was a new level…of grownup-ness.
Mom would be in a CCU and the doctor would break the news to her tomorrow.
Thank goodness my friend Davey stopped by. I needed someone to talk to so I told him what was going on. He gave me a beer.
Tomorrow would be a big day. How would mom feel about the news? What could we say or do? We made arrangements for my sister to fly home. We wouldn’t tell mom. It would be a surprise. She hasn’t been home in about six years. It would be a sweet surprise.