My, how things can change in the span of a year! This time last year, my family and I were at the hospital wishing, hoping, and praying that my father would survive the Sepsis and multi-system organ failure he was battling after post-surgical complications. Mom and Middle Sister took the day shifts at the hospital, Baby Sister, who flew in from Seattle, and I took the night shifts. Machines beeped. Tubes drained. IV’s pumped. We watched. We waited. We laughed. We cried. We reminisced. We drank gallons of coffee, tea, and water. We ate, usually without tasting. We thanked the nurses. We thanked the doctors. We thanked the techs. We brought food and made gifts for them. We wrote glowing commendations for human resources. We stepped away from the outside world. We circled together like elephants protecting their young from predators. We had one job: help Dad get better.
We spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in the cafeteria in shifts. That meal, we tasted, and it was delicious. I ate Thanksgiving dinner for all three meals that day and was overwhelmed with gratitude each time. I was even treated to one of those meals by the wonderful woman who worked at the check-in desk who we all came to consider family.
One week after Thanksgiving, when my beloved ended up in the same hospital on a different floor, the experience was surreal. I found myself popping between floors, grateful that the others were with Dad so I could be with her. I was grateful for the quiet corner of the full-to-capacity hospital where I could sleep in a chair next to her bed. I was grateful for the same doctor who treated Dad to be her doctor, as well. I was grateful when she recovered quickly. I was grateful when Dad began to recover. All in all, Dad was in the hospital for about a month. He was finally released to go home on Christmas Eve. Their neighbors met us in the driveway with dinner. The gratitude washed over all of us. This year, everything is different. Everything. Thanksgiving will be a drive-by and drop off food occasion. Middle Sister is at the house with my parents. Baby Sister is back home in Seattle with her husband and Little Monster. My beloved and I will be at our home. It will be different, but it will be safe. We will be safe. We will be together by phone or Zoom. We will be together in our hearts. And we will be grateful. Always.