Tooty said that when my mom was in labor with me my dad came to the hospital with a brown paper lunch sack (in case my mom hyperventilated) and a lollipop (in case she was thirsty but couldn’t have water). My parents had taken childbirth classes together, but Texas in 1970 wasn’t hip to letting expectant fathers anywhere near any birthing activities, so they made him wait outside. Tooty told me that when she got to the hospital she found my dad, sitting on a chair in the hall with his elbows on his knees, his head hanging down, the bag in one hand and the lollipop in the other, looking like the saddest man alive.
When she described this scene to me she was still so touched by it that I could see it clearly. I still can. I’ve been thinking about that moment for the past few days as my brother and sister-in-law wait for their brand new baby to get big enough to come home with them. The new baby doesn’t have a name yet, because he was six weeks early and they hadn’t settled on one and they wanted to meet him before giving him a name, and the first couple of days he’s had all sorts of stuff taped to his face to help him breathe and eat, and, well, it’s just not clear yet. He’s doing really well, all things considered. All he has to do now to come home is eat. Willow was in the very same situation when she was born, so I know just how they are feeling. Here she is at 11 days old, still in the NICU
I don’t think that there’s ever been a time in my life when my heart felt so cracked open. It physically hurt to leave her in the hospital. When I talk to my brother my chest gets tight and I cry. I know his son is okay, but that memory of being in his shoes is still that powerful, even with Willow sitting there on the couch next to me, perfectly fine, playing Angry Birds on the iPod touch she just got for her 8th birthday.
I hope this time goes by fast for them. They are my very most favorite little family on the planet.
That said, I’ve been sending my brother text messages that say things like:
OH NOT FIN. IS GLEE CHARACTER, WHOOPS
It’s not that I think or hope he will take my advice, it’s that I hope I will bug the crap out of him so they will be more motivated to pick a name and get me off their backs. I’m only sort of kidding.
What’s that saying? When you’ve got a kid in your life it’s like your heart is walking around outside of your body? Something like that. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about my brother and mixing it up with this story about my dad, seeing them both sitting in some hospital hallway all dejected and lonesome and I just want to tell them both that everything will be okay but I’m so far away from the both of them.