Things I know while visiting my father in MCA hospital:

I know from “listening” to my father’s facial expressions:

Three hand squeezes means “I love you.”

A winking eye does not mean, as a nurse said, “your dad was flirting with us earlier!” but instead means he has something in his eye and please remove it.

Eyes wide and looking here and there means, “When am I getting out of here?”

Eyes to my watch, of course, “What time is it?”

Eyes wide, eyebrows up down together, look right left: “How long have I been here/What day is it?/When am I getting this tube out of my throat?”

Squinchy eyebrows drawn together, “What’s going on? What are they going to do?”

Moving feet/legs back and forth means, “Could you put a pillow under my legs?”

Mouth forming “W” . . . what/when/where/why – and I must figure out by asking.

Open mouth, close, open: Thirsty/mouth is so dry.

I know that . . .

I know that nurses work really incredibly hard. I know that most of the nurses I really like and respect, but there is one that I do not particularly care for, though I’d never tell her because why would I? But I carry that with me like a little nippy dog in my purse. I like and respect the doctors, save for one who patronizes me and thinks I’m not smart enough to know he’s an ass and I am the consummate Ass Spotter. I don’t think I hide that nippy dog as well around him.

I know that no matter how germaphobic one can be or many times one washes one’s hands, and uses antibacterial lotion, and tries not to touch things, that sometimes people who visit the hospital feeling well will find themselves on the bathroom floor for nine hours sick as the clichéd dog while later the nurse says, “Oh, yeah, there’s a virus going around the hospital.”

There is a filled bed in the ICU one minute, and the next minute there are people sobbing, and the next minute the door to that room is closed, and the next day the bed is emptied and the sobbing people do not return and soon there is someone else in that bed with new people visiting.

Hospital cafeterias are not known for their healthy food—go figure.

Someone in the elevator can look at your worried face and when the elevator doors open, they say simply, “Good luck,” and you want to hug them.

Living out of a suitcase makes one feel as if they do not belong, even if they are staying with welcoming wonderful family, they feel a sense of intrusiveness, a sense of being in the way, an almost apologetic “sorry” across their features as they try to meld into the routines of the lives of those they love but rarely see.

Sometimes I feel whiny: I miss my bed. I miss GMR. I miss my dogs. I miss my mountain cove. I miss my singing creek. I miss writing my book. I miss the smell of fresh mountain air. I miss the trees waving at me. I miss my mountain cove walks. Then I get over my whining and go about the business of family.

Everyone else’s coffee tastes like shit.

My daddy didn’t look like himself until today, and that was when I looked at his forearms. Those were his forearms. And then I saw his face and it was again him.

A rainbow, just a tiny piece of one, bloomed between the breaks in the clouds and I pointed and said, “Look Daddy, a rainbow arcing right over your room, right over your bed.” He was asleep but I think he heard me.

There is tired. There is exhausted. Then there is Loved One Is Very Ill Fatigue, and that is a fatigue you know oh so very well once you’ve known it. It won’t stand to be forgotten.

Whatever I am going through, there are people who have gone through so much worse for far longer and I have the utmost complete awed respect for them — I can’t say that emphatic enough.

To all of you – thank you, once again, for your thoughts and well wishes for my father. He is improving and we are hoping he’ll have the intubation tube removed within a week, maybe soon as a few days. I told him how you all were pulling for him and sending such nice wishes and thoughts and prayers and all the ways you believe in. Thank you! I know I am erratic in coming around, but I think you all understand.

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