Our household cannot help but relive this date, last year. It was a day of once-in-a-lifetime drama and surprises, joy, and incomprehensible sorrow.
The day was November 19, 2010.
Son had just driven the long ride home to check on his pharmacy, which couldn’t do without him much longer. He had spent weeks at the bedside of his seriously-ill dad at the Cleveland Clinic, but reluctantly decided he could afford a couple of days back home.
Daughter had just flown across the country to be at her dad’s side that week. She was eight months pregnant, but she thought she could afford a few days away from home to see what’s going on and to encourage her dad. We’re a close family; all four of us were together that week.
I was floating around among them, feeling their conflicts between duty and family, but tightly tethered to Hubbie’s bedside. Deep down, where we don’t have words, we were all aware that “this time” the Cleveland Clinic was not making Hubbie feel better. This time, for all their efforts, they couldn’t find the right combination of medicines and procedures that always used to bring him out of danger.
We were not comprehending.
And then, early that Friday afternoon, Daughter came walking down the hallway toward her dad’s hospital room — with a strange and serious look on her face. She needed her mom. I stepped out into the hallway and received her tentative news: Mom, I think I’m in labor.
And then I went into some Professional Mother Mode that I didn’t know I had.
I got Daughter comfortable in the big easy chair in her dad’s room; and then she got connected with her San Francisco hospital birthing department which had trained her well. Recording contractions kept her occupied — until it became apparent that the time was now!
Hubbie put on an uncomprehending, watchful-from-a distance expression, which was perfectly appropriate.
The nurses, technicians, and young residents on the floor of the Cleveland Clinic were glassy-eyed with confusion. They are experts in cardiac care. Hearts. Nobody there had ever delivered a baby. I finally told them to call their own emergency room and tell them to bring up a stretcher. The ER personnel could take over from there.
I had texted Son at 3:45 p.m. and informed him that his sister had just gone into labor – and all was well. I’m quite sure he had an out-of-body experience right then and there, and joined us in spirit.
I picked up Daughter’s husband from the airport and somehow managed rush-hour Cleveland traffic with a frenzied soon-to-be-first-time-father in the passenger seat.
And the baby — Cooper — discarded the next five weeks that he was supposed to stay in the womb. He had a Grandpa to meet.
And that’s the way it was, November 19, 2010.
There are many photos taken at this time posted when I wrote about it, as it was happening. ( In the November, 2010, archives now. ) But I can tell you that the images of this day that I have in my memory are far more vivid than any of those photos. The images in my mind are not made with pixels, but are made with strong emotions of joy, relief, and grief and sorrow, birth and death, happiness and hope.
So it is for us “poor banished children of Eve…in this valley of tears..”