4:44 am (or is it really 4:20?)

Four forty four am. and the soft sounds of the morning traffic report interrupted my dreams. My usual routine is to shut off the alarm or better yet wake on my own, listening to the chirping outside my window and thinking thoughts of thankfulness before stepping out of bed. But yesterday morning only one thought prevailed – surgery. My daughter was having surgery in three hours and as much as I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t anything complicated, an out-patient procedure and we’d be home by noon, an uneasiness crept inside me like a fog drifting from my heart to my head.

We chatted all the way to Estero as if we were driving to the mall in search of the perfect, one-of-a-kind prom gown instead of a doctor’s office with fabric and shoelace gowns. The GPS sat in my glove compartment and I made two wrong turns – everything was normal.

Senior citizens packed the waiting room. How unfair that my daughter had to go through this experience as a teenager. Her name was called and we walked through a door and into a hidden world, one I was all too familiar with. My emotions burst through their own secret door buried deep in my memories; there were white sheets, IV bags filled with saline, metal trays with wheels and the thin curtain that made the high pitched clinking sound when pulled closed.

I stood there, smiled, and tried to make small talk with the kind nurse. Meanwhile, inside I could feel the fog within me rise to fill my eyes making them water. I told myself I was tired.  I hoped the nurse didn’t notice. My daughter wheeled away to get changed into her gown and I signed all the appropriate papers. Now I was feeling a roaring inside. It’s a helpless anger that makes me want to grab my daughter and run but my mind said stay, she wants the surgery, hopefully it will help, she will be okay. The nurse motioned for me to leave. Moms had to wait behind closed doors.

I joined the elderly in the waiting room and pretended to read my book while I listened to all the conversations around me. In the past, I’ve picked up words of wisdom from those with more life experience, but yesterday’s topic of conversation was Charlie Sheen. Not interested.

“Krista?” I looked up and saw a smiling nurse. Good sign. “I let your daughter sleep an extra fifteen minutes. She was really tired.”

There she was, upright in bed staring at me wide eyed. “Are you okay?” I had never seen such a funny gaze in my daughter’s eyes. She nodded and then burst out in laughter. The nurse read my confusion. “She’s high, mom.” Words I never thought I’d hear.

What was I supposed to say to that? Good? I guess it was. She wasn’t in pain. “Oh,” was all I could muster before going into teaching mode. I rubbed my daughter’s shoulder. “Honey, remember on That 70’s show when everyone sits in a circle and laughs? That’s kind of what you’re feeling. I think.” Her face scrunched up and I thought she was going to cry and then another burst of laughter shot out and soon both nurses were laughing too. We were having much more fun than the other seven patients in the room. The laughter cleared away my inner fog and I knew everything was okay.


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The Picture Book Review

Reviews of Children's Board Books, Picture Books, Activity Books, and Graphic Novels

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