Knives of pain slowly carve away at me. Wave after wave of grinding agony peels layers off any protection I might have against this. Against watching my father suffer. His skin is gray against the sterile white linens. Two thick yellow tubes emerge from his back and bubble into a metered box partially hidden below the hospital bed. He shifts from his back to his side, pushing against the mattress in an effort to relieve the pressure on the incision. A row of twenty or more staples winds its way down his shoulder blade and disappears under his arm. His grimace is permanent at this point, it only deepens from time to time. His full head of hair is a disadvantage now - reflecting fully the amount of time since he's had a shower or a comb to tame it.
The heaviness in my chest feels like a sandbag, but instead of protecting me from a flood, it pulls deeper and deeper in to me with each passing minute. I can feel the crater threatening.
A hidden spring bubbles up almost imperceptibly. My brother comes to visit at the hospital and stays to watch the Yankees-Red Sox game and "shoot the sh*t". This is a gift that could never have been predicted. Dad is released on Sunday and comes home to sunshine and a home cooked meal. The pallor of his skin is replaced with unmistakable joy at being in his nest again, surrounded by adoring pets and more comfortable in his own recliner. Monday evening my sister comes for dinner and calls him "Daddy". I am welcomed in to this house and trusted and appreciated. My efforts to ease the transition home prove helpful and I am so pleased to be able to cook and clean and walk the dogs. The quiet calm and tangible love that surround us in this place are a balm. The grinding pain of the past week has opened up a new place inside me that is gradually being filled with love and gratitude. I have more space to contain it all. This is something I can hold on to for now.