My stepmother Aliki is breaking my heart. She can't leave my dad's side and has slept for days scrunched up in a little chair in his tiny intensive care room. Last night she finally went home for a bit because she was sick but then she called me and said she couldn't bear being in the house alone. I held John so close. We breathe the same, our skin feels the same (neutrogena) and I remembered how lonely I was when he was just gone for a few weeks, even though there's lots of other stuff in my life. Aliki has fully committed the last thirty five years of her life to doting on my father. Her empty condo must be terrifying. She is still full of hope and while he is on complete life support, I have done nothing to disabuse her of this. There will be plenty of time for that. My visits are brief. I have other obligations. The real truth is, I cannot bear to see my father this way and I leave her there alone in prayer for hours at a time.
My dad is in the new Saperstein Critical Care Buiding. A whole huge wing emblazoned with "critical care" seems so very harsh. Maybe "the building that’s a teensy bit worse than the other one" would be more gentle. The cliche of callow young medical residents rings true there though. The girl resident phoned me at 3:00 a.m. to tell me that while she had bad news, she would first, the exalted medical school graduate, condescend to tell lowly, baccalaureate plus scant graduate credit, me, that my dad is a "really great guy." I failed to see the relevance of this and wondered if she had found my dad to be a real asshole, would she have pulled the plug or just lumbered on with him but trying much less hard.
It was with this same young Dr. Harrington (who called us, of course, by our first names) who came into today to discuss "do not resuscitate orders". Aliki shut down completely, standing catatonic with the mention of this (or anything else that intimates he won’t be returning to lie next to her in the night). I could not help but sense, the young Dr. Harrington, who undoubtedly worked very hard to be where she is, was enjoying the unusual lack of supervision she must have, on this, the last holiday weekend of the summer, and was getting damp panties from the power she felt while holding forth to us mere frail mortals, one of us now curled in a miserable chair and the other stretched out beside a loving healthy husband, writing in my blog.