Sunday September 13
I called the IMCU (Intermediate Care Unit) this morning at 6AM – you had a restless night and the night nurse, Christine, agreed with me that you are less responsive and shared her frustration that the fever keeps over taking your body. She talked to the resident about it, who will talk to his/her boss and maybe do some more tests. (another CT maybe). She got a good sputum sample for culture and it’s at the lab now … growing … I hope quickly so they can get you on antibiotics again.
The children, Fran and I came to visit you, There is not much change, you are not very responsive and have had more fevers. Tara and Quinn try to stay busy finishing the dream catcher, learning other sting games like cat-in-the-cradle and how to finger knit. I feel drained. My optimism is evaporating away from me and I can’t seem to get it back.
The day nurses are busy. They don’t really have anything more comforting to say then, “He’s strong and fighting it.” and “Sometimes brain injury recovery can look like this.” My mind leaps ahead to all sorts of complications. It’s a blessing and a curse – knowing something about medicine - enough to understand the disease but also enough to realize the dangers. Perfect breeding grounds for anxiety. However, I refuse to concede to the anxiety, I can have it but not let it own me – there is no other option – he will overcome this – he has come too far for an infection take him away.
Tara and Quinn are getting restless – we head out to get some lunch, I spot Emma R. at the nurse’s desk. She came to offer her emotional support to us and good wishes to Chris. Emma is a runner too and a fellow veterinarian. She is a positive thinker and a caring person. She and her partner, Dave, brought homemade frozen dinner for us to take back to Truro. She offered me a place to sleep if I need it. They live near the hospital.
Tara, Quinn, Fran and I head out to get a late lunch. On the way back, We go through the Public Gardens. The children see ducks and compete to name some of the various species. They have energy to burn. They are active kids and, like their parents, find comfort doing things … and being busy.
We come to a small bandstand with a circular path around it. Fran suggested they race around it while she times them. Tara was up for the challenge first. She has just gotten really nice running shoes (Nike) for the start of the school year from Fran – she wanted to put them to the test. She sprinted around kicking her feet up behind her – Chris, you would be proud of her … she ran fast.
Not to be out done, Quinn decided to run too. ‘Quick’ Quinn flew around the track with his feet almost hitting his butt as he ran by. Another fast time. Next, they decided that a direct challenge was in order. Quinn went clockwise and Tara went counter-clockwise, both leaving at the same time. I won’t tell who won – you are just going to have to see it for yourself.
We go back to your room and with a little stimulation, you are a little more awake. While Tara stands beside your bed, I say “This is Tara.” Tara says “Hi Daddy, I love you.” You lifted your hand and made a feeble wave with your eyes closed.. We all smile at your great effort.
On the drive back to Truro, I’m on edge thinking about the ‘what if’s’ (a dangerous game). Tara and Quinn are arguing about who is going to get the last container of milk, I snap at Tara about, of all things, spilt milk (literally). She gets quiet and starts to hum the theme song to Forrest Gump on the way out of the city.
Almost 2 weeks ago, a friend whose daughter is Tara’s bestfriend, gave me 2 books on coping with death and children. It was intended to help lead us through a path of healing after your death. One book was meant to be read to children. The other is for parents to help guide their children through the maze of feelings associated with a parent being sick. I read through it the other day and congratulated myself on my good intuition about how to handle the Tara and Quinn’s concerns and worries. My intuitive skills were confirmed by the counselor at the school. I felt I had been handling things with the children all right … Until now.
About one month ago, we rented the movie ‘Forrest Gump’. Chris and I debated whether it was an appropriate movie for a 7 and 9 year old. The start of the movie was a little tough to explain to the inquisitive Tara.
There is a scene where Forrest’s mother (Sally Fields) tries to persuade the principal at a school to let her son into the school. He says that Forrest’s IQ is below the acceptance range and it’s not possible. Forrest’s mother asks if there is something that she do for Forrest to get in, and the principal asks if there is a Mr. Gump. She says, “He is on vacation.” The scene cuts to the front of Forrest’s house and there is loud breathing heard coming from the house and little Forrest is sitting on the front step. The principal walks out the front door, arranging his clothes and comments to Forrest that his mother is very persuasive.
“What does that mean” Tara asks. I start to stutter out an explanation but Chris, always with a quick wit says “The principal thought she was a very good dancer”. If you have seen the movie – you’ll know that it ends with Forrest becoming a father. Chris loves this movie, perhaps because it about the little guy that preserved or because it is about the hidden potential in all of us to be great parents.
Chris loves the theme music to the movie, the ‘Feather Theme’. For the next few weeks, Tara hummed the song and worked out some of the tune on the piano. She wanted to surprise Daddy with her skill at playing it. I found a version of the sheet music on the internet and Tara fine tuned her performance, She played for him the day before he collapsed.
When we got back to Truro and we had dinner at Juanita’s house. I got to meet Farley for the second time. Juanita had brought back some mail from the animal hospital - There were cards from people who knew me through my work at the veterinary hospital. Many cards with healing words of support and gift certificates for gas and food. Amongst the cards was one that stood out to my eye. It had a poem on the cover but what really got my attention was a small heart with one word …’Believe’.
Some days it’s the very little things that get you through the day.