Today also makes me think back to one year ago; Eli was scheduled to have his G-tube surgically placed. When they set the date for 02/11/11 it didn't bother me at first, but as the day got closer I got more nervous. It's always scary to have your child under anesthesia, but especially so for one with such a complex and stressed heart as Eli's. He was just a month out from major heart surgery, he was only nine pounds, he was only 15 weeks old, and his surgery was scheduled for the seventh anniversary of my dad's death. I just made myself view it as a sign that Dad would be closer to him and help protect him through the surgery.
Then, as luck would have it, things changed. The two doctors who were to do Eli's surgery got pulled into two emergency cases. They wouldn't be available to work on Eli until after 5 that day, which was not something they wanted to do. Eli's surgery was pretty routine, but he is not, so they wanted to do it early in the day just in case something did happen. He was rescheduled for Monday morning, Valentine's Day. I've never been so relieved for someone else to have an emergency (I was told both emergent cases did fine). In my heart, I knew Eli would be fine from this surgery, but the dark shadows in the back of my mind wouldn't go away. I couldn't bear to lose them both on the same day. Fortunately, everything went well with the G-tube placement and we have absolutely no regrets about doing it. I'm sorry that he needs it, but it has been a major relief and assistance to have it.
Just some random memories about Dad:
- I believed anything he said, against my better judgment: I went to a hardware store to buy a left-handed-monkey wrench because he asked for one, I believed he was a dog in a former life, and that he chopped every piece of wood in the woodpile at his old homeplace 30 years after he left there.
- four-wheeling at Grandma Dot's through the strip mines
- picking out my first pair of glasses with him: I have no sense of style, especially as a fifth-grader and those glasses proved it. They were ugly blue snakeskin type frames that were too small and with lenses that tinted in the sun. As soon as I saw my mom's face the first time I wore them I knew they were wrong, but I couldn't have new ones for at least a year. The second pair was no better than the first!
- he wore a cowboy hat and boots almost all the time. Not a lot of guys can pull that off, but he was an authentic "don't give a s*#t" kind of guy so it worked
It may sound strange, but Dad's illness and death really helped prepare me to deal with Eli's condition. It taught me to "let go and let God," that He is guiding me even when I feel like I've fallen into an emotional black hole, and that despite what happens there's always another reason to keep going.
No matter how old we are, parents have their ways of teaching us lessons...in life and in death.