Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Pez Nurse Watches...

I was at work today discussing the future of next year's Big Brothers Big Sisters Program with one of my school representatives. I had the normal comments about how high gas and oil prices are, which keeps people at home, which means people do not volunteer anymore, and people do not "give" anymore.

I was trying to tell this person that we need to stimulate volunteers because staying home is not doing them any good. They end up dwelling in the negative, and maybe we need to focus on how volunteering can actually improve our health. We discussed how attitudes are so important, and we had to follow this up with action.

I was having a great time as we swapped success stories, how we each change lives or at least improve them, when my cell phone rings. I take it out of my pocket, upset that I had not either left it in the car or put it on silence. The screen had my mothers name on it. I hit the "ignore" button since I was at a lunch meeting. (TIP: Never hit the ignore button when it is your Mother. They know!).

As I was changing the cell phone to silent, the phone rang again..you got it; Mom. I decided to take the call. I said hello and told her that I was in a meeting and that I would like to call her back when I finished. She said in an emotional voice, "OK. I just called to let you know that your sister had a heart attack a few moments ago. There is nothing you can do now, we are just waiting. Call me when you are done. Or maybe I will call you when I hear something; anything. I just want to be sure that you get your daughter because she will get off the school bus and come to my house with the door locked. I need to know you can get her ok." I tell her that I can get her and she should not worry. I then hear a muffled sobbing cry. I was speechless. Did she say my sister had a heart attack? MY SISTER? She is only 48. MY SISTER?

I asked Mom if she was alone with my sister. She said that she had my brother-in-law, my other sister, and my brother with her. I told her that I would finish my meeting, and then call her up. She said that was fine.

The woman I am with says, "Are you ok?" I said, "Yes, yes, I am. Just give me a moment to collect myself." There was a silence that was deafening. My mind was running so fast; faster than normal. I had to prepare my big celebration in that town, then I had to go pick up the items for my awards banquet later this week, and I had to go to yet another town to hold an end of the year celebration at an after-school program. "Did Mom say she had a REAL heart attack?"

I look up at the woman I am with, and with all seriousness, I said, "My sister had a heart attack. She is safe and under medical care. There is nothing I can do for now, so I am going to continue our lunch, go to the elementary school to pick up my items, then I will go get my daughter. I only have to figure out the end of year party in the next town at 3:30pm today. I can handle this. I can." The woman looks at me with watery eyes and says, "We can get our food to go. Really." I quickly replied, "No. She will be ok. She is under care, and there is nothing I can do to help if I was there. My mother will call if things change. She will call again."

I looked at the woman and said, "This kinda ruined the mood." She said, "Yeah, but I tell you what, I am going to go home tonight and hug my husband and call my daughter and tell her that I love her." I said, "You know the brealfast celebration we are having tomorrow morning at your school?" She replied, "Yes, but do not worry about that!" I said, "It was my sister who was preparing the breakfast items for that party." "Oh my goodness," replied the woman, "we can cancel the party if need be." I immediately replied to her, "Oh no! I will pull myself together to get through this party. I will make other arrangements for the food, and this party WILL occur. I got a donation of a bus and the bus will roll. If I need to fall apart for any reason, I will do so after the party."

As our food was delivered, we had light conversation about the important things in life. Surface stuff. It was nice. I think this woman and I had a tightening of our working relationship today. I think this will keep us closer in the future because we invested emotion, personal emotion, into each other today.

I went to the other schools and finished picking up my items, listened to some complaints, which seemed so trivial and minor today. I responded accordingly, but wanted to yell, "Shut Up, my sister had a heart attack you fool!"

When I got home to pick my daughter up from the bus, I decided to check my work e-mail messages. I got an e-mail from a co-worker that insinuated I was acting in a manner that I was not. I shot off an e-mail to her telling her my true intentions and that she actually read my e-mail incorrectly. I used caps for some words, which showed my anger, but I did not care.

My daughter and I sat in the car as I told her the news. Her face looked how I felt. It made me want to cry. I explained all that I knew and told her there was nothing we could do but support her. I told her I had a party to attend to and I wished she would come with me. I did not tell her, but having her with me made me able to hold it all together.

She helped me lug in the party items, and we were both very quiet. I think in many ways we each had a job to do emotionally and we did it.

I held the party...and no one knew the real pain that was inside my daughter and myself. I talked in front of a group of children, had them sign thank you cards for our Big Brothers Big Sisters supporters, and took photos. I passed out my Pez gift packs, and made everything perfect. As i passed out the packs, I noticed that one of the Pez was a nurse. I wanted to cry right there. I held onto it.

When I got to the car after the party, I asked my daughter if we should give this to Aunt Debbie. She shook her head yes uttering no sound. Her emotions were loud, however.

At the hospital, I took the elevator to the 3rd floor. I got out and the sign said "Birthing Center" and "Lactating Room." I just stood there in disbelief, then I started to laugh. We went back to the main entrance and found the right set of elevators.

Once in the room, my sister was as alert and said hello. Her first words to Alexandra were, "I am going to be fine, and we will be walking the beach on vacation, don't you worry." Alexandra broke down in tears and hugged me as she cried. I kept kissing her head to assure her that I was here for her. Her face was red and her mascara had run onto my white shirt. It would not come off. I said, "Good qualtiy mascara because it runs but never goes away." We laughed. I took my Big Brothers Big Sisters name tag and covered the area, which got a few more chuckles.

My mother was sitting on the window seat with my pregnant niece, and in a recliner type chair was my brother. The chair was right next to the hospital bed. I looked at the site and it was sad. I know my mother was thinking that she did not want to lose her daughter before herself. My mother lost her mother, her husband, and her twin sister within a year and a half or so, and she did not want to have one of her children pass away before she did. My niece was wiping away the tears as she watched Alexandra, and I am sure she was thinking a lot about the life she is bringing into the world, and how things can change in an instant. My brother was sitting there and you could tell he had no intention on moving. He became the support for my brother-in-law and he was not leaving until he felt they were ok, and they were not ok.

All the machines hooked up top her reminded me of a transformer. Alexandra and I had just watched that movie over the weekend. She could not move one leg and one arm, and if she did, an alarm went off. She had several "drips" going into her body, and even though she was smiling and saying she was fine, our hearts were telling another story. She said that all the pain she had been experiencing was now gone, and at least she now knows what is going on.

She was right. She could do nothing but let the doctors do their job and she had to cooperate to get her body back to normal.

I got restless, and I am not one to just do nothing, so I began to pace the room, I began to read all the signs: "CODE BLUE - Hit button and then call 9-1-1" "Guest services offers many options..." "Restrooms are for patients only...see a nurse for more information." As I looked at everything my eyes could absorb, I kept clutching the Pez Nurse that was in my front pocket.

I decided that I could not just stand around and wait for nothing. And since no one offered me a seat, I had to think about leaving. I was emotional, and becoming weak in the knees. I saw a bulletin board hanging on the wall opposite my sister's bed. It had a wide lip along the bottom to accommodate write-on/Wipe-Off erasers and pens. I quietly took the Pez nurse out of my pocket and stood her on this lip. I stood in front of it. Then my daughter and I said our good-byes. We left.

It was a quiet ride home to her mother's house. I certainly tried to tell her how lucky her Aunt Debbie was, and we are lucky to be able to see for ourselves that she is in good spirits. I think my daughter just needed to be with her mother to express her emotion because Alexandra is smart enough to seethe emotions in that hospital room. He Aunt Debbie is a mother, but she is also someone's daughter and someone's sister. I think Alexandra needed to have a moment with her own mother. To be able to express whatever she needs to express, to share whatever comes out naturally. Alexandra needs to be her own person with her emotions, which I know she will handle well.

My cell phone went off again as I pulled into the driveway of my home. I sat alone in the vehicle and spoke to my mother, who said, "Did you leave the Pez Nurse for Debbie?" I said, "Yes, someone has to always be watching, even if it is just a Pez." My mother said nothing for a moment, and then said, "I knew it was you, I just knew it." I could hear the other family members laughing. My mother said, "OK, I had to call and ask. I knew it was you. I just knew it." I thought to myself, "There is power in Pez....Really."

I sat in the driveway and as rain began to slowly tap the glass and distort the clear vision through the glass, I began to cry. My sister had a heart attack. Oh My God.

I know this sounds silly, but with that Pez in her room, I feel like I am there; attached. The Pez Nurse is watching...really...and she is very, very sweet.

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