Friday, August 19, 2011

surgery waiting ghosts

I spent the better part of this afternoon in the surgical waiting room. Seems like over the last few years I have spent a good deal of time in waiting rooms, concerned over loved ones. Concerned might not be quite the right word. Worried, anguished... Nothing seems to capture the combination of studied calm and extraordinary panic that you feel when a loved one is having their chest split open for the second time in 24 hours, or having a breast removed. The lingering possibility that they may not ever come out of it, combines with the requirement that you be strong to mitigate the fears and anxieties of those others you love who are waiting with you.

This afternoon, my father was having a more or less routine surgery to correct some nerve damage. But still the thought of never seeing him, of complications, persisted. And as the estimated time for the procedure passed, and our concern increased, a very strange thing happened.

One of the waiting room volunteers came over to us and said, “There's a woman on the phone asking to speak to you. She said her son Jorge had surgery this morning.”

My mom and I looked at each other. Confused.

“Are you sure you have the right person? I asked.

She was. And then I said: “This really isn't possible, his mother died many years ago.” And for a brief second I hoped that, indeed, my grandmother was calling from whatever afterlife there might be, to let us know he was going to be alright. When my mom took the call, the line was dead.

There's nothing like death to make you want to believe in the future.

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