it's been a whole year since we said our goodbyes. i scheduled our surgery just before thanksgiving when my brother who lives in san diego would already be visiting. after interviewing a few surgeons - like, wtf, who gets to go shopping for brain surgeons?? i talked to three surgeons and dr. sisti from columbia presbyterian impressed me the most. they couldn't open the dvd of the MRI i had sent them, so i texted the one image i had to someone in his office (i had screen-grabbed a scan that another surgeon showed me). dr. sisti took a quick look as the phone passed through his hands and pronounced "oh, i know what this is. i just did one this morning!"
that's when he told me that we were old friends and he said these kinds of tumors start early and can grow for years without needing to be taken out unless they start causing symptoms.
you were giving me seizures, talula, so, i'm sorry, you crossed the line. it was YOU that went too far. i hate to place blame but come on... you are the tumor... not me.
it's funny how the threads of a situation can be tied into knots to justify our own actions and make it seem like we are the victim.
emily was good at that. she's managed to pin our divorce on my mother and my whole family. and i know she needs to be mad at someone so she doesn't have to be mad at herself, but she has no case to make that my mother is the villain. my mother stood up for emily when no one else would. and more importantly she stepped in for emily the morning of the surgery.
so let's talk "strike 2" in this game of divorce. another abandonment. the morning of the surgery, i spent most of it crying in the hotel bathroom. and that's how i know she was full of shit when the next morning, she cried to my mother that she was up in the bathroom sick all night. she said she thought it was from the popeye's chicken sandwich she had the night before (the same one that the rest of my family ate).
she didn't come to the hospital that morning. that broke my heart. again.
so we got in our cabs (my brothers and parents stayed the whole time) and drove the three blocks to the hospital. i cried the whole way there. i couldn't believe she would do this to me again... she made the whole situation about HER. somehow, even though i was the one with the life-threatening surgery looming over my head, she staked her claim on "victim" that day.
it was about 6 months into covid, so the hospital was strict about their only-one-visitor policy. earlier, we decided that my mom would escort me to the surgery while everyone else waited in the lobby. when i came out, emily would be my first visitor. so, literally, all she would have had to do is ride in a cab for three blocks, sit for 5 - 10 minutes, give me kiss and then she could have gone back to the hotel to sleep. instead, she showed up at the hospital lobby a few hours later and had no problem eating the lunch that my sister-in-law in san diego sent for everyone. even across the country, she was there for me that morning (in her way). but not my wife. she just couldn't do it. she just could not put my needs before her own.
and even then, after watching me cry the whole way from the hotel to the hospital, my mother defended her and told everyone else (they were all furious with her) to chill out. "emily is a problem for another day. today, we get you through this surgery." mom and i went from the lobby where everyone could wait to check in for the surgery. she was cool as a cucumber and comforting in her infinite-mom-energy way. i was glad i chose her to bring me in. while we waited there, my stomach started complaining. i hadn't eaten a chicken sandwich, but my stomach did not care about that now and i went into a private bathroom and literally shit my brains out. still crying, i came out and they were ready for me. we went in an elevator and they showed us to the prep area. a very kind nurse helped me get setup in my gown and fantastic non-slip tube socks. my mother again reassured me that all would be well and dealt with at the right time.
i vaguely remember anything after that, but i do remember another very kind nurse getting me onto the operating table and talking me through as i slipped into the anestheia's gentle embrace. the next thing i knew, i was a mummy in a hospital bed.
my wife said she was there when i came to, but i don't remember that. i spent another two days in the hospital hopped up on steroids and painkillers. i remember all the medical staff being suited up in full-body protective gear. i remember seeing my dad and my mom. i remember emily's eyes filled with tears as she looked deeply into my own. i couldn't tell what was behind her eyes, but there was something. was it fear? was it relief? or was it guilt?