My cowboy dad and my bombshell mom.
Today, my dad gets his bone marrow transplant. Since he is doing Haplo rather than a traditional transplant, it's a more complicated process than I anticipated. I suppose I thought they would use some sort of huge bendy straw to suck the marrow out of the donor like so much sticky milkshake. (Of course, I am sure that is still a far cry from the way traditional transplants are handled. But the image of a red and white stripe straw is so much more fun than all those gleaming knives and the dr's bloody gloves.) Instead, the donor goes through a three hour surgery and two hundred incisions into the bone to harvest the marrow. Today, the donor is my eighteen year old brother. He spent the night in a hotel by the hospital yesterday, ordered room service and then this morning gave my mom two thumbs up as they wheeled him into the OR. I love that kid.
This last stay in the hospital has been different than all the ones that preceded it. This time, the chemo hasn't made my dad sick. He jokes with the nurses and doctor's like they are having lunch somewhere rather than discussing how they plan to save his life. My big family has eaten dinner together in his little room as many times as we could manage it. Fried chicken out of Styrofoam has never tasted so good. My mom, however, is the same. The figure that won't move from my dad's side, the one that smiles when he is worried. She has no one to smile for her when she can't sleep for all the bigness of this thing. I think that is often our role as women and I pray I can do it with as much grace as she has when it is my turn. And then I pray it is never my turn.
I know the answer to that prayer has to be a loving, firm, "No."
This morning I woke up trying to feel the outcome of this procedure. I thought perhaps if I laid still long enough and let my mind go quiet I would would be able to feel the answers outside of me and ahead of me. I believe they are already there just waiting for us to catch up to them. Yes, they are there, I could nearly make out their shapes in the distance. But I could not get close enough. Rather, as I laid in bed I was reminded over and over again of the first day I visited my Dad during this round of chemo.
It was last Thursday. I pulled into the same old parking garage, parked in the same dark space and walked out onto the same busy street. There was the hospital, the biggest thing for blocks. A nineteen seventies structure where people have wept with joy and hurt for the past forty years. And there were the big glass doors, the ones I have rushed through even when I was afraid of what I would find on the other side. Everything was the same. Exactly as it has been since that first day I drove there in the December, hoping to beat the ambulance that carried my dad. Even though I knew I couldn't and that it wouldn't change a damn thing if I did.
There was one change. This time, the sun was shining.
And it felt like Spring.