Monday, November 1, 2010

A Whole New World

Hey you guys,

I haven't been here for a while and in a minute I'm going to tell you a story that will kind of explain why. This story isn't like my others in that it's A) not a happy story and B) it's not really about me. However, because it's a someone's story that intersects with my own life, I feel that it's a story we can examine to figure out what the point is because right now, I don't have a clue of it myself.

A Whole New World

I have a mother and she has a sister. We'll call the sister (my aunt) Diana. Diana has a husband. His name is Row (and he's my uncle). Everybody following me so far?


So last Sunday, my mom calls me and says, "Hey baby, your Uncle Row is going to have open heart surgery tomorrow. His arteries are clogged. But don't worry; I've got a feeling he'll be okay."

I could have told you in that second that Row would be fine. My mom has the best intuition I've ever encountered. In fact, I sometimes wonder if she's psychic...but that's a story for another day.

Row went in for his surgery on Monday at 6am and I waited all day to hear how he was. I left work at 6:00pm and still had heard nothing. I began to wonder, could my mom's intuition actually be wrong? I called, frantic for news, but my mom just said, "There's no word. I keep calling but Diane won't call back. Now I'm worried; it's been over 12 hours. Maybe something went wrong. I'll call as soon as I hear anything." Then she hung up.

Later that night, I still hadn't heard anything, so I shoved worry aside and went to the bar with my friends for a  few beers. Halfway through my first round, my mom called. She sounded really happy. "It turns out Uncle Row is fine." She breathed deeply and I interrupted- "I knew it. You sound happy." Silence. When my mom spoke again, her voice was a whole octave lower and a tissue box of tears sadder. "Well baby, I do have some bad news. Diana wasn't feeling well this afternoon. So your cousin took her in to the hospital to get checked out. When they pulled into the parking lot, Diana was unresponsive. The doctors rushed her into the hospital and they had to put a tube down her throat. She's having a blood stroke." I had walked outside of the bar to take this call and immediately, I thought I'd faint. My whole stomach dropped and I felt completely weightless. I was sure that in any second I'd be lying on the cold concrete.

I forced myself to pull it together-this was my mother's fucking sister. I asked my mom if she was okay. Obviously anything I was feeling was minute compared to what she must be feeling. My mother is the youngest of eight children and because she grew up in the not-so-well-off section of an urban city, her mother and father had to work multiple jobs to keep food on the table. Diana had a substantial hand in raising my mom and I could tell from the time I was a child that my mom idolized her big sister. She said she was fine and that she would update me in a while as to what was going on, but she wanted to get off of the phone and keep her line clear.

I went back into the bar and handed my beer over to my friend. There was a good chance I'd be leaving town in the next two hours. Sure enough, my mom called me back twenty minutes later. She didn't think Diana was going to wake up. She was leaving her house to get to Diana. My mother lives 4 hours away from her sister and, leaving at 11pm, she wasn't going to reach her until at least 3am. I asked her if she'd rather wait until the morning to leave, but she said she just needed to be near her sister.

I left the bar pretty immediately after that and had barely walked through my front door when my dad called and told me not to even think of driving to see Diana. I can't tell you why, but his saying that really unnerved me and I didn't sleep well at all.

I didn't hear anything on Tuesday. I texted family members all day with no response. Finally, around 8:30pm, my mom called. "Diana didn't make it." She didn't sound sad or happy and that's when I knew she was in shock. 

My mom called again later that night and I have never heard her sound quite as hopeless as she did then. She told me that Row had just woken up from surgery and was asking for Diana. The doctors told my family that they couldn't tell Row about Diana because of his heart; it wasn't healed from surgery yet. "I lied to him," my mom told me, sounding defeated. "I told him she wasn't feeling well."

I finally made it to the hospital (which is also four hours from my apartment) on Wednesday. When I got there, my whole family was in the room and they had just told Row that his wife was gone. I asked them how he took it: 
     His daughter said, "Dad, you know mom wasn't feeling well. Well we lost her."
     Row just smiled, "Lost her where?"
     His daughter shook her head, "She had a stroke, Dad. She's gone."
     And then he cried.

So now it's Monday night. Row is at home with his daughters and his family. I talked to him today and all he can say is, "I'm holding on." 


So that's today's story. I warned you that it wouldn't be a happy one. 

My uncle went to sleep for a few hours and when he woke up, he was in a whole new world without his life partner by his side. Aside from taking suggestions on the point of this story is, I also want to know if this thing of one spouse going in for surgery or some other procedure while the other one passes away has happened to anyone you know, because I've never heard of such a thing before.

Today's Point: To Be Determined

1 comment:

  1. I think the point might be that the things you're worried about or fear are almost never the terrible things that actually happen. And that the life changing moments almost always come from out of nowhere.

    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts! Love you!