I got up this morning before dawn. Usually, I like mornings like that. In the past, they’ve meant we’re leaving for a vacation for parts unknown. This morning it meant showering and packing our red wagon to head to the children’s hospital for Dolly’s cardiac cath. We all have matching shirts that we wear as a family when something big is happening for Dolly.
Middle-Middle entered my room first, already wearing his shirt, worrying that I would take Dolly and leave before he got to say goodbye. No way baby. She needs the ten thousand kisses to which she has become accustomed. Dolly herself woke up a few minutes later, and then, like every morning, her funny babbling rouses the rest of the house. All the kids flocked to my room just to be by her. It wasn’t odd to have that happen, but it felt somber today. I can’t imagine what it will feel like when we do this for real. Today was almost like a dress rehearsal.
I dragged my feet leaving the house. Big time. I was nervous about being alone in the car. I made up every excuse to get FPD to come out to the car. I needed the wagon in the car, the suitcase handle was stuck. I think I was hoping he would say something that would make this better. Sadly, there isn’t anything like that to be said. Finally, I was totally out of reasons not to pull out of the driveway. I left all the people who love Dolly the most in the world in my rearview mirror.
We drove through the dark, totally empty streets. I sang country songs to my baby who sat happily in her seat, babbling and watching the lights on the buildings as we drove by. For a split second, I had the overwhelming urge to just get on the highway and drive as far away as possible. We could go someplace warm, where I know Dolly would love the beach and the ocean, where the sunshine could hit our faces, where we could leave heart disease, and all this, in the rearview mirror. I would love that kind of escape.
Sadly, we can’t. We need to start walking this long road to healing.
We arrived at the hospital and Dolly wowed everyone with her general cuteness and her smarts. She’s becoming a true 2-year-old, communicating her needs so well inside of her 9-month sized body. She wants to eat. She wants to play. She wants to go bye-bye. She wants to be anywhere but where we are.
I lost my stuff when they put that little mask over her face to get her to go to sleep before they began poking and prodding her, before they cut into her. She struggled and fought so hard. My hand began to shake so badly, trying to hold that mask over her tiny face, that the anesthesiologist took it from me, promising me that after the first 2-3 breaths, they don’t remember anymore. Everyone here is so comforting. I sang to her, kissed her, and then laid her on the table.
Then, I turned, and I left her in my rearview mirror.