“You are not allowed to cry right now because I’m barely holding it together and I can’t hold it together for both of us.”
Standing off to the side of the cardiac floor waiting room, I actually said those words… over the phone… to my 18-year-old daughter.
Not necessarily a Mom-of-the-Year response to the fact that her world was indeed caving in. My weak defense is that at the time of that statement, my father was undergoing open heart surgery and an aortic valve replacement and I was going on 2 hours of sleep. If it helps, I did end the conversation on a more positive note …
“I need you to be strong. We’ll get this all worked out. I love you!”
Later, the nurses gifted us with a few minutes to see Dad and his miriad of tubes and wires and monitors and pumps. While my mom held his hand, my man checked out the bags of IV fluid, the drainage tubes, the pumps and the monitors. Thankfully, he speaks the language of the Cardio-Vascular ICU and knows how to interpret tubes and wires. He was also prepping for a conversation with my RN sister who is in the Dominican Republic. I watched my mom and I watched my man but mostly I watched my Dad’s chest go up and down as the ventilator breathed for him. It was not easy seeing Superman tied down.
Walking out a few tears leaked through and my man stopped to let me rest my head on his shoulder. Instead of leaning in, I pushed back and told him I could not let myself give into the tears lest the dam break and I flood the hallway. The tears would have to wait.
As I sat in church on Sunday morning more than a few tears leaked out. All the pent-up fatigue, fear of the unknown, and frustration with Emme’s schooling threatened to spew forth. More than once, I considered walking out to wait in the truck. Honestly, though, I was more concerned that someone would see me than I was dealing with the bubbling emotion.
I came home to an undercooked lunch and an overly emotional daughter, pretty much summing up how life felt. While we put the meat in skillets to finish cooking and the potatoes in the microwave, I held a crying daughter. Nothing about losing Federal financial aid and having to pack up and transfer from the university of her choice to our local community college has been easy. She has been advocating for herself and doing a fabulous job jumping through hoop after hoop after hoop thrown her way.
It’s often road trips that allow my mind to wander enough to unwind. Rather than get a chance to just sit and shed the tears that were threatening, God gave me the gift of a road trip. Driving to the lake to put away summer water toys allowed for uninterrupted conversation with my man. Honestly, Chad knows me better than I know myself and can often see through my emotion to the cause underneath. Great conversation, deep laughter, and a little bit of chocolate helped change my perspective. Watching football with my dad and chasing the sunset home were simply the icing on the cake.
On the other side of the trauma of open heart surgery and the drama of our community college, the skies are clearer. Dad is home and the puzzle pieces of getting Emme admitted and access to her assignments online are slowly falling into place.
Looking back, I wish I would never have uttered “you’re not allowed to cry.” While I said that out of fear of opening the dam of tears, letting a little steam off would have saved us both some anguish. Somethings are just nonsense.