This afternoon I was sitting here. Ready to type a post. About packing. For my upcoming trip. I was going to spin all sorts of prose connecting my packing experience for my trip to my mom’s packing experience.
Something to the tune of: Laundry and ironing surrounds me as I prepare to fly off on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. A trip I have prepped and planned. A trip I have shopped and stressed over. The type of trip I will capture with my Canon and remember with my words.
But as I fold my jeans and iron wrinkles out of favorite shirts, I can’t help but think of how my mom will soon be packing her bags, too. Bags filled with basics. Items necessary for hospital visits.
The thing is, I will be packing for fun. My mom will be packing PINK.
There were so many things I wanted to explore here through words and wonderings.
As I was Googling images, asking Google to find “suitcase + hospital” or “hospital + luggage,” the television playing in the background (what can I say, I need to multitask) I heard the phone ring and saw the number and name flash across the television. I was expecting the phone call – thinking the information would be positive.
It was my mom. She’d just had another test. Because the day before – Tuesday – her CT Scan showed that there was, what appeared to be, fluid around her heart. Today’s (Thursdays) ECHO was supposed to rule that out – double check. The result was supposed to be “clear” – that everything was A-ok.
But her phone call, like the one I received on October 6, resulted in news that caused naseua.
Her news: she needed to be admitted for surgery ASAP.
I listened. I hung up the phone. I went into helper mode. I turned off my thoughts and took care of business.
Part of me wanted to call everyone I knew, everyone my family knew, and tell them the news. The only person I contacted was Cousin A. He needed to know that I wouldn’t be able to make it to a hockey game tonight. A hockey game he coached. A hockey game I had put on my calendar back in August. He needed to know. Because he’s family. Part of my family.
Packing occurred. But not how I thought it would. I thought my mom would have time. Time to prep and plan. I imagined her bags packed the night before hospitalization. That’s how it was supposed to happen. But it didn’t. She packed in a flash. We made a mad dash for the car.
Driving my mom to the hospital, we let silence fill the car. She fielded some phone calls while I manuevered traffic and watched for my exits.
Like dropping a kid off at hockey practice, I pulled into the hospital and let her out at the main doors. I told her I’d meet her inside and went and parked. Walking through the parking spaces filled with other patients and their waiting families, it sunk in that I’d be doing this again. And again. And again.
I braved the revolving doors, which I loathe, and found my mom admitting herself into the hospital – signing papers, receiving information – with a band wrapped around her wrist to seal the deal.
A wheelchair was wheeled over. She climbed in and sat down. I pushed her, reassuring her that I push wheelchairs better than grocery shopping carts.
The night flew by. She found her room, her nurse, her cardiologist. All are top notch. Phone calls were made. More texts sent. An Aunt and Uncle came to support; they’re coming back tomorrow – in just a few short hours.
The details of my night are fuzzy, yet burned into my memory. Words like “pericardium” and “lymphatic system” and “nodule” and “Breast Cancer” were spoken throughout the night. All are words I’ve heard and used before – heard as lines in television shows and uttered by other people; used in medical terminology classes and to describe other people. None are words I thought I’d need to use or know right now.
Part way through the night, while needles and nurses were poking her, my mom looked at me and said “sure beats a hockey game, huh?”
No, it didn’t. Because a hockey game is over and done with after three periods. A hockey game has rules and results.
But a hockey game can wait. Because my mom’s luggage has been packed and unpacked. And it will be packed and unpacked after this weekend – after her surgery and recovery. And it will be packed and unpacked again – for her next surgery and treatment.
She’s going to spend a lot of time packing PINK.