It's just after midnight and Quinn vomited. He says "I hate being sick.". Exactly what you would have said - Chris the 'germ-o-phobic'.
Chris hates being sick not that anyone really likes being sick - but some people let an illness take them over and accept it - knowing that there are better days ahead. Chris has a hard time looking forward to better days and is usually miserable. Mostly, because after every flu bug that goes through the family (and there have been plenty, with young school age children in your life) Chris would get a lingering cough that echoed past the sore throat, sniffles, aches and fevers. Often, the cough would last for weeks. The cough affected his training and his moral.
Tara and Quinn are quite accustom to Daddy's worry about getting sick. They are good hand washers and use tissues once and wash hands after - thanks to Chris. They are very aware of Daddy's 'germ-o-phobic' nature. That's why Tara was so concerned when I told her that Neeson was going to live in Daddy's room.
3:30 AM - Another vomit - this time all over the bathroom and Quinn. I get Quinn cleaned up and back into bed - there can't be much left to vomit. He can't go to school today - I will have to figure something out later in the morning.
It's 5am, more vomit. Poor Quinn. This time he was caught off guard - He said he was having a good dream and then he coughed and the cough turned to vomit . all over the bed. I clean him up again. He drifts off back to sleep. Gosh - I wish I could sleep like that.
Generally I'm a good sleeper, Chris says that I can drift mid sentence and the children have caught me, more then once, reading bedtime stories and drifting off into dreamland in the middle of the story - still talking but not reading and the words come my dream - not the book. That has not happened since Aug 31.
It's 5:30 am now and Quinn's at it again - there can't be much left inside him - He says he feels better now - but I check and he has a fever. I leave him on the bed with Annie, the 'Wonder Dog', curled beside him helping to make sure the bed doesn't float away in the night.
The day's plan changes again, Fran has sore throat so she is staying home with Quinn and Bill is going to drive me to Halifax. Tara is off to school - I offer to walk her -"I just have to get dressed" I said. Tara looked at me with concern and independence and said "Mummy, remember one day last year we started walking to school when we went to the old school (Douglas Street School - approx 2 km away) and Quinn said that he was too tired so you turned back to drive him and I walked the rest of the way by myself? Well, I can walk by myself, you don't have to take me - it's not far and I'll be careful. You should be with Quinn."
The children's new school is only 1.5 blocks away from our house. Chris and I have walked them to school every day since they started at the new school in Jan 2009 . I suddenly realized that our old habits of parenthood can sometimes interfere with our children's personal growth . I will have to watch that. I smile at Tara, her fierce independence of the past that used to frustrate me is now becoming an asset.
Bill, Neeson, Erik and I head to the airport to fly back to Newfoundland. The boys are excited at the prospect of travelling together without grownups (they are 11 and 13 years old). I buy them some gum and give them big hugs. I say how great they are. I really feel like I've grown closer to them during this past 10 days. I tell them what I learned just recently. "Parents think their job is protect their children but children know what their job is . it's to inspire strength in their parents - both of you are very inspiring - keep it up"
Bill and I make it to the city, It's a beautiful day . again - what's with the weather - the most emotional volatile time of my life - and the weather has been great - Is this a sign of support from some greater power?
When we were married on August 29, 1987. The weather that morning in Ottawa was nasty - I got up early - I couldn't sleep - It was dark, gray and rainy - my heart fell - we had planned on outdoor wedding in a park in Ottawa, with softball and volleyball games after followed by a BBQ. We had a back up indoor plan - but I had banked on being outside. My mother and sisters got up and headed to a friend's home to get our hair done. It was still raining. As the morning passed the weather slowly cleared and by noon the sun was peeking out.
The wedding was set for 2 PM and by the time we arrived at the park for Bill to escort me 'down the aisle' the grass was dry. The rest of the day was beautiful. We hugged after the ceremony, signed papers, got changed and played ball. It was a great afternoon and evening. With a wonderful sunset at the end of the day. I felt like our special day was blessed.
In the early years of our marriage, there were ups and downs as we learned more about each other. There was a push - pull of where to live. NS or Ottawa. There were the domestic issues - he filled the kettle with cold water to boil - I didn't, he always locked the doors - I often forgot, he didn't like pet hair in his food - I didn't care. I worked long hours and he felt lonely in a new province. All sorts of little and big issues that put stress on our marriage. During the low times, I would reflect on the weather of the wedding day and regarded it as a metaphor and predictor of our life together. A rough start but a great finish. That metaphor kept me strong.
When I turned the corner of the ICU, I did a double take, you were sitting up in a special chair. A little slumped to the left - but looking good. You were far more alert - opened your eyes briefly to see me. The T-piece was working well and all your vital numbers were good. We held hands - I talked loudly to you as you would have to do for Donald . (Donald is a good friend of Chris' who is 89 years old and rather deaf - Chris visits him 2-3 times a week).
I talk briefly about Tara and Quinn your right hand gets quite active. I ask if you want your feet rubbed - "thumbs up for yes, thumbs down for no" - No response - I start to massage your feet - you usually love this - a few minutes pass - and than you snap your fingers and give me the cut sign - What! No foot rubs!
I start to think that maybe your sense of perceiving sensory feeling may be distorted for now. I ask Jill, the nurse, if this could be so - she's not sure. Then I ask if I should continue to talk loudly - "no" she says, "If his hearing was good before, it will be OK now." I wonder if sensory overload could be an issue as your neurons are just starting to wake up and find each other. We play hand holding games - I'm sure you are trying to tell me something, your lips are moving but the tracheotomy tube has taken away your voice. I said - I was surprised that you could snap your fingers. Your response was to snap them several times in a row! I think I have a new language to learn.
As a veterinarian, I'm used to working with patients who can not talk. I have trained myself over the years to read their body language. The human animal uses body language but we tend to default the spoken word. All other animals use only body language. Vocalizations are merely exaggerations of body language. Like a laugh, cry, moan, sigh in people. You will have to teach me a new language to communicate.
The visit is good but I'm tired, Bill and I head back to Truro for the end of the school day. I sleep in the car. I'm really tired when I get home. Harold has been busy harvesting the garden - there is quite the pile of zucchini, spaghetti squash, sweet mama buttercup squash and cucumbers. The tomatoes are behind this year - most are still green.
Quinn is well, has been great since I left that morning - spent the day with Fran learning how to make origami water balloons - Yes that's right paper water balloons - and they work and the best part . after the balloon ruptures, he discovered, if you carefully unfold the paper and let it dry - you can make it again! He is in a good mood.
Tara went to Madeline's (bestfriend) after school and the two of them continued to ballet class. She had a good day at school - took a backpack of rock because that's what they are studying now. She went through some of your rock collection, naming the rocks as she went : agate, stilbite, amesthst even a fossil. She shares your passion in geology.
I go to bed and sleep for 2 hrs. Have dinner with the children, Fran and Bill. Organize for the next day . one day at a time - it's hard to think further then one day at a time. Unfortunately, I have to think bout routines and schedules and how I'm going to fit it all in. Trips to Halifax, school and after school activities (Tara and Quinn are involved in a lot) and my work which I must return to in 1-2 weeks. I sort papers from the school and make phone calls and write emails to start setting things up for next week. I'm trying to envision how the week will flow - I can't - I'm too tired.
I go to bed at 10:30. Quinn is in our big bed. I think, children are like work and things - all three expand to fill space and time. Seven-year-old Quinn is spread out in the middle of the king sized bed - I roll him to your side. I pull up the covers and remember the Christmas a few years before children, when you gave me the Saint Bridget quilt.
It was Christmas morning, with no children at home, we had a lazy morning, taking our time to start the day. We would go to my Mother's for lunch where Juanita and Wayne would be along with Neeson - the only nephew. At one point in the morning, you take a phone call - it's Mildred, the church secretary, she said that, when driving by the church she had noticed some lights on upstairs. She asked Chris if he could turn them out as we go through town to go to Mum's place. Knowing how green thinking I am - He asked me if that was OK - I said yes.
We pull up to the church, it's close to noon now and difficult to see which room had lights on. Mildred had told him that the lights were upstairs. Chris asked if I wanted to wait in the car with the dogs, I said no - "I'll help find out which lights". We enter the dark church, Chris suggests I go up stairs while he'd look in the back of the church. I find my way up the stairs and pass through a meeting room and into the next room. Ah ha there's the light Mildred was talking about. It's in the quilter's room.
Being a bit of a do-it-yourselfer, I've dabbled in many handicrafts and toyed with the idea of quilting. Being curious, I take a peek at the work in progress. It's large, white yellow and green and had 9 large squares in the middle with various patterns handsown into the fabric. I recognize the patterns immediately and call for Chris. "I found the light! - Come.check this out! - The quilters are making a St Bridget Cross quilt! It's terrific." I'm thinking - I should find out where they got the pattern and see if I could put together on myself - I carefully note the shapes and colours used.
As I circle the quilt frame that occupied most of the room, I admired the variety of St Bridget Crosses. I learned about St Bridget on our last trip to Ireland - something about the crosses felt good and comfortable and soothing. In gift shops, you could buy handmade straw St Bridget's crosses. I didn't buy one but I did study them to see how they were made. I wanted to make one from grasses from our own garden - I felt it would be more special that way.
Here, before me was this marvelous creation that intuitively gave me so many feelings. "Can you believe that - It's a St Bridget Cross quilt" I said in disbelief. As I trace the crosses with my finger - Chris says "Merry Christmas". I smile and say "Merry Christmas" back - still not getting what he meant. I look up - and he smiles and says "Merry Christmas" again - My jaw drops open with the realization that this was to be our quilt. I fall into his arms and we hug.
That was the best Christmas present. Chris had research St Bridget and found books with various crosses, he designed the quilt and he recruited the church quilters to do the job. He even helped them do some quilting! I was impressed. What impressed me even more was how he played me . he played me perfectly. From leaving the light on.purpose, to the setup phone call and all the carefully constructed and perfectly delivered conversation. He directed the entire story line right from the beginning. He predicted my every move . He knows me.
That quilt has been on our bed ever since - it's seen us through many sleepless nights with children in the bed. To the untrained eye - it looks a little tattered - edges are fraying and Annie chewed one of the crosses. But to me, it's still a symbol of love and proof that you know me.
You are so full of surprises - and you know to play me perfectly - While you lay in the hospital sleeping and I'm sleeping at home - I don't know if you playing me . but you are sure inspiring me.