August 26, 2006
The much awaited, highly anticipated Dahl girl’s race last weekend was pretty much a bust. Instead of running the Silver State Marathon, we held an impromptu family reunion in the waiting room of the intensive care unit of Washoe Med. Our dear, sweet dad wrecked his plane on Saturday along with an inordinate amount of himself.
What started out as a nasty compound fracture to his ankle and basic fear and worry on our part, escalated into a list of damage that included a collapsed lung, a torn aorta, and a room full of hysterical daughters.
He’s on the mend now, but it was a week of ups and downs. From walking into the ICU after his surgery, knowing he didn’t know we were there, but looking desperately through tubes and machines for anything that resembles your dad, to the next day helping him write a frail note and deciphering the chicken scratch to find out all he really wanted was a Coke and for Harvey to go back to play football. There are just so many emotions to deal with.
One of the lessons we all agreed is most valuable is how to be a better friend. So often I think, we just don’t know what to do when someone gets hurt or dead, but it was such a good experience to talk with all the friends and family who called and sit with the people who came to visit. It breaks up the monotony and gives you something else to think about and it reminds you how much he is loved, and how many people love all of us.
At one point my Aunt Olivia, Dad’s sister who lives in Sparks, brought in a complete meal including dessert and a table cloth and we all sat around with a batch of friends who happened to be in the right place at the right time and had a fairly normal family dinner right there in the first floor waiting room. It taught me that it’s ok to bother people in trauma and that friends aren’t really a bother at all, but a huge blessing.
Another lesson was a reminder of the power of prayer. This week we have been blessed by all the people we know who talk to God and who sent their prayers for our dad and we are so grateful.
Molly told him yesterday with a little laugh that he pretty much had the religions of the world covered. One of her friends brought a Tibetan prayer scarf that we tied on his bed, and another lit a candle for him in the National Cathedral in Washington DC. The Mormons in Boise, Washington DC, and Reno were praying for him in their temples, and some of my cousin’s Jewish and Muslim friends were doing their praying. The Nazarenes, and the COGIC churches in Fallon along with all of our other friends who asked what they could do, sent a reverse rainstorm of prayers on dad’s behalf. One of the nurses told my step mom that she was so glad he had so much support and praying. She said she had been a nurse for a long time and that prayers work. And from what the doctors told us on Saturday, they were the only thing that did.
I remember a subtle change in my dad a couple of years ago when his dad died after a long and productive life. My dad seemed so happy and almost boyish and I couldn’t understand it. When I asked him what the hell was wrong with him and why he wasn’t sad, he said that his dad had lived a full life and was at peace with himself and was not afraid to die. He also said that we needed to remember that we are still alive and that life is so good and that we should enjoy every second we’ve got here. My dad told me then that he was not afraid to die, but I was afraid this week that he would and I knew he wasn’t done living. There isn’t anyone who likes being alive more than he does and I’m glad he still is.
Today he is fighting the tubes and the bed and the nurses. His doctors said they were pretty much done repairing him at this point and from here on out is just recovery. He keeps writing to whoever goes in to visit that he wants to go home, “I’m ok, let’s go home.” Yesterday he flung his mangled up leg over the side of the bed rail and was headed out of there. Who knows what he would have done with the ventilator but by heck, he’s still got things to do in this life. Let’s get on with it.