Thursday, August 6, 2015

Six Going on Seven

     Imagine that you just turned six years old.  Your dad has been dragging a tube around everywhere he goes in the house for over a year.  Whenever he leaves the house, he carries a noisy backpack.  The tube goes in his nose and it helps him breathe.  You know he goes to the doctor a lot and needs new lungs.  You're pretty sure Dr. Simon is getting them from Argentina, but when you say that, Dad explains that Dr. Simon is helping, but he isn't getting them from another country.  Almost exactly two weeks after your birthday, that "call" that you've heard Mom and Dad talk so much about comes, apparently-- first your grandmotherly neighbor and, later that day, your actual grandmother, stay with you after Mom and Dad leave.  Dad gave you an extra long hug and seemed like he might cry before he left.  Grandma tries to play video games with you but is really, really bad at them.  Mom didn't come home that night, or the next night, and that was okay, even though you hadn't been away from her for that many nights before.  Grandma lets you have pretty much whatever you want, because Dad's in the hospital getting his new not-from-Argentina lungs, and Grandma usually lets you have whatever you want even when it isn't a special circumstance.

     Aunt Kelli, who has four fun children you call "the guys," takes you home with her when she is done helping Mom wait at the hospital for Dad to be done with his surgery.  At her house, you seem like everything is okay.  They have a lot of Legos at their house.  But when you get back from Aunt Kelli's, finally seeing Mom again after three whole days, all that emotion you'd been holding in, all the worry, pours out.  Mom assures you that everything is okay, and you don't realize how her heart broke a little when you sobbingly say, "I thought I was never coming home again."  Upon your first visit to see Dad after the surgery, Mom tells him this story.  He silently wonders if you realized that it was him, not you, who was at risk of leaving the house and never coming back a week ago.  

     Visiting Dad at the hospital is exciting and weird.  He has tubes coming out of his chest!  Four, like Dr. Octopus!  And you have to be so careful about germs.  You use sanatizer every time you even touch one little thing.  You walk in with a bunch of new presents to play with while you are in Dad's ICU room.  Everyone thinks your Playmobil airplane is pretty awesome.

     Dad can't be there on the first day of school, since he's still in the hospital.  Mom's birthday was that same day, and you visit Dad to tell him all about your new teacher and classmates.  Dad didn't need a tube in his nose to help him breathe anymore, so Mom got to blow out a candle on her cake!

     Finally, after almost forever, which is what twenty days without one of your parents at home feels like, Dad comes home.  He is so happy.  

     Dad sleeps in the basement for a lot of nights.  All his medicine and stuff is down there.  He starts putting you to bed, but he's sore and you're extra careful when you hug or touch him.  Your room feels a little too quiet at night.  Your dog's crate is empty for a whole month, because he's staying with Mom's cousin because he'd be so so excited to see dad, like you are.  Except you can control yourself, and Vito would pounce all over Dad. 

     Dad's going a lot more places now, but Mom is always driving, and Dad's got a pillow that he wears on his chest under the seat belt.  He wears a mask every time he gets out of the car.  He can't get any germs.  He takes it off when you go to outside places, like at your flag football games.  Flag football is so much fun, and now Dad can help you practice more at home since he got new lungs.  He tried to run along the sideline at one of your games, but his chest and legs hurt.  He's hilarious.

     You're having a great school year.  Dad gets up in the morning to help you get to school, but he stays home.  He can't go back to being a teacher yet, his lungs and body are still healing.  Some days Dad takes you to school, and he can come in and help sometimes, but you know kids have a lot of germs, so when he does visit the class, he wears the mask.  You tell kids it's because Dad's old lungs didn't work so he got new ones.  You're a little shy about explaining this, but you like it better than when you had to explain the noisy backpack.     

     School gets out for the year, and Dad is doing so many things that he could never do before.  At Disney World and everywhere else, he's running and playing.  At your cousin's birthday party, he chases your balloon and grabs it before it can float way up into the sky, like cousin Melody's did.  Even if you'd wished for it when you blew out your candles back when you turned six, you couldn't have ended up with a better result: a happy, healthy Dad who can do all the Dad stuff you want him to do.  

     At the first doctor's visit you went to with your Dad since his surgery, you ask the doctor only one thing:  "Is it okay for my Dad to ice skate?"  And they say yes! You don't understand what your Dad means about the old joke with the doctor saying that the guy can play the piano.  When it comes time to plan your birthday party, you have only one request:  "I want to go ice skating."  And Mom and Dad say, "We can make that happen."

     The night before you turn seven, Mom and Dad ask about your best memories of your year as a six year old.  After offering up your favorite moments-- Disney World, camping, playing hockey, finding out what Star Wars is, they prod you a bit.  Mom and Dad ask, "What about Dad getting his new lungs?"  You say, "Oh yeah!"  You can hardly even remember that you went to Aunt Kelli's for three nights almost a year ago.  The quizzical look on your face as you attempt to recall a time so long ago makes Mom and Dad smile at each other.  They know that it's not because you don't see Dad's new lungs as a wonderful gift-- it's because somehow, improbably, this journey from six to seven gave you a healthy father without taking away your innocence.  You go to bed that night no doubt wondering why people both cry when they are sad and happy.  But you have many more years to figure that out, along with all the rest of life's mysteries.  

1 comment:

  1. Awww! You hit me right in the feels again! ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜❤️๐Ÿ‘

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