Glad to be here

5 a.m., the sixth day after

He’s the third person who’s walked in our room in the last half hour, which they don’t do in the better hotels, and this is one expensive place to stay. The first two took his vitals, weighed him, pulling off all the blankets in this too-chilly room, removing the pillows, one of them holding the heavy heart monitor. They call out a number in kilos, which means nothing to us, then replace his pillows and blankets, which I will have to get up to adjust because I’ve learned how he likes them.

And then the blood guy knocks on our closed door—as someone like him does every morning at this time—with his little vials wearing different colored plastic caps and his rubber band tourniquet and, of course, his stabber, and like everyone else who shows up in room 329 at Kaiser Moanalua hospital, he’s curious about our story.

Barely awake, Dick gives him the 30-second version:

At the Honolulu airport, about to board the plane, he feels dizzy and collapses, heart stops, breathing stops, two nurses in line jump out to give him CPR, the defibrillator arrives, one shock, and he’s back. To the hospital, major blockages in three arteries, now waiting here for a CABG.

Blood Guy, focusing on his job, is silent for a few moments, finishes his collection, unsnaps the tourniquet and in one smooth motion puts a new cotton ball already lined with tape on Dick’s arm.

“Sorry your vacation ended this way,” says Blood Guy, then adds, as most people do, “but it’s good, I guess, that you didn’t get on the plane or that you weren’t in flight. I’m sure you want to get home, though.”

“Glad to be here,” Dick says, and he means it.

And even at this early hour, my eyes and brain fuzzy, I detect the sincerity, the layers of meaning in those four words.

I’ve been thinking this for six days now: It could have been different, Dickie. You could’ve not come back. Me standing there at the Gate C1 watching strangers work on you, your two shirts and a photo vest cut off, your pale chest exposed to the world, sticky conduits pasted on in a seemingly random pattern like a deranged stripper. Me calling, “Dickie, no! Come back! Come back.”

And you did, though you’ve returned to all these young people awakening you every few hours (hospitals are the worst places to try to rest) and you’re facing major surgery here. But you, with your usual optimism, say, “Glad to be here.”

And so softly that Blood Guy, as he prepares to turn off the light and let us go back to sleep, can’t hear me, I say, “Me, too. Me, too.”

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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9 Responses to Glad to be here

  1. Hilary A says:

    May this be the last trauma in your generous life. Light=around you and Dickie! Love!

  2. Cora says:

    Oh no! His beloved photo vest was CUT OFF? OMG! All kidding aside, wonderful commentary. Thank you for putting this on your blog. Hillary’s comment is truly apropos. Hugs, CJ

  3. Shelley Mydans says:

    You knew you would do it, Jan. You brought tears. Here I am, sitting at computer and filled with gratitude, with tears in my eyes. What a story. What a guy. What a loving Jan. It’s all good, no? And awful. And good. You’ve got what it takes to come back to us intact and ready to go. Meanwhile, rest when you can and know that we are all holding you in our hearts. Love to you both, S

  4. Cindy Espinoza says:

    He has a sweet angel somewhere in this vast universe, and he has a human one beside him. You’re in my thoughts Jan.

  5. Louise says:

    US TOO!! ❤️❤️

  6. Kathleen Adele Goemann says:

    Makes us all stop, think, and appreciate how instantly EVERYTHING can change. So greatful the stars were aligned just right to give us Dick for a while longer. Love and hugs. Kathy

  7. Kara Petris says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Dick!!

  8. Pingback: Dick’s Great Heart adventure | Güd wrtr

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