very different from last year
Most mornings when I look in the mirror I find that “you should have stayed in bed”-look staring at me. Wednesday and Thursday it was that “why do you have to wake up at 5?”. Recently I’ve also faced the “I wish I didn’t have to leave the house to shower”-look. This morning it was the “you’re off on holiday this afternoon”-look that met me in the mirror.
It’s February. In a few hours I’m off to a week of snow and skiing and reading in front of the fire-place. A week of wooly sweaters, running noses and splashing around in the (heated) outdoor pool while looking at the snow and the stars.
But most importantly I’m off to a week of good company. Company life has taught me not to take for granted. Company that is so dear to me.
February last year was different.
When I was 23 my Dad had a triple bypass. At the time we thought it was huge. Last year in February my Mum kept saying “Drew, you have to realise that the bypass was nothing compared to what he’s going through this time”. I kept hoping and praying and keeping my fingers crossed.
In the autumn of 2006 they told us my Dad would not live unless he got new heart valves. I was at work when my Mum told me. She phoned me. I started crying. I remember going to my boss telling him I needed the rest of the day off. He hugged me. I didn’t like him any bit, but right that second I didn’t mind him hugging me. I got home, phoned my boyfriend and told him. He left work and was with me less than an hour later. He held me. A couple of weeks earlier when heart surgery was still just a possibility, I had made him promise we’d get married before the surgery if surgery turned out to be the only solution. “I promise,” he had told me. We never talked of it again.
They called off my Dad’s surgery twice. So February last year I said goodbye to my Dad three times. Why goodbyes? Because I wanted my Dad to know I love him. If anything were to happen, I wanted him to know that his daughter would never stop loving him. That I’m so deeply thankful for all the things he has done for me in the past. Picking me up from parties and listening to my drunken talk on the way home in the car (and never once telling my Mum or brother what I had told him), being a true support when I was homesick at boarding school, always making sure I knew I was his girl and that he loved me. Three times I stood there. Hugging him, holding his hand. Kissing his forehead and praying everything would be fine, but secretly saying goodbye.
Surgery was on a Friday. I was with my Mum. We sat in my parents’ living room. We didn’t really talk, didn’t really read. And then they finally phoned from the hospital. A lot later than we had been told to expect them to call. I heard my Mum saying “yes” and “no” and “thank you for calling” and putting down the phone. And then we hugged and cried and my Mum said: “he’s out of surgery. It’s been tough, tougher than they expected, it’s taken longer than they expected, but now he’s out of surgery”.
I hope you’ll think of us – father and daughter – next week. Alive and together. I was afraid of never experiencing this again last year. We were meant to go but called off the trip because of the surgery. “I promise we’ll go next year,” my Dad smiled. I smiled back because what else could I do? I hope you’ll think of us next week – alive and together.