At 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, I was rooting the Redskins to victory and leaving the sports bar with a single wine spritzer under my belt. My biggest concerns at that moment? Two: that the Giants would pull it out, again; incredulity and annoyance that one of the stupidest bartenders I’ve ever regularly over-tipped despite her rudeness, had actually asked me to move THREE times to accommodate her payola version of seating of guests with enough money to thank her. I should complain to her manager, I thought as I drove off. I will complain, I vowed as I pulled up to my apartment.
At 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, I learned that RG Daughter had become suddenly ill on a very long flight from far away in the Pacific Ocean en route back to her college (she had been studying an island culture in real time for the past several weeks). I learned that Air New Zealand is an awesome airline whose flight attendants wrapped my daughter in blankets and cushioned her 103-degree fevered head in as many pillows as they could find. Rather than fear her symptoms, they brought her cups of hot, sweet tea every half hour and offered her what comfort they could.
At 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, I learned my daughter went straight from the airport shuttle to the college health center, whose nurses in turn told her, “Go to the ER, right now.”
At 11:35 p.m. on Sunday, I was told I would hear what was up in a few hours. Someone would call me.
At 1 a.m. on Monday, I awoke with a start, wondering why my cell phone, which I had carefully placed in bed next to me with the ringer turned up to its loudest setting, had not yet rung with news that RG Daughter was resting comfortably. Should I call? But who to call? Surely, someone will call. I’ll give the dumb bartender another chance next weekend, you know, just to get a call.
At 2:10 a.m. on Monday, I woke up shivering under my coverlet, listening to the guys next door party on, my windows open for once to let in the fresh, chilly night air. I won’t glare at them tomorrow for being so loud, you know, if someone will just call to tell me RG Daughter is feeling much better.
At 3:30 a.m. on Monday, I awoke with tears streaming down my face, because I had not really gone back to sleep. Her fever was so high. A health center infamous for discounting student ills had not hesitated to send her to the ER. Her fever was so high….I haven’t been sick in a year or more. Give me the fever, and I won’t even think of calling out.
At 4:00 a.m. on Monday, I sobbed in earnest, having now allowed myself to let my thoughts go so dark as to wonder if this beautiful daughter I cherished might be lost. Meningitis? Something else equally as deadly? I have a medical power of attorney. But where should I send it to prompt someone to talk to me, because she likely cannot. I promise to put all my own angst and selfish worries behind me forever if I can just hug my smiling daughter again, breathe the scent of her hair, feel her once more feel so much a part of me.
At 5:00 a.m. on Monday, I fell asleep. I dreamed I was in Colorado and could not find the hospital in which my daughter lay so sick, because I could not find my rental car in the huge airport lot and I kept losing the keys just when I thought I spotted it. I promised, in my dreams, I would do anything, ANYTHING, to find the car that would take me to her. Want me to go back to office work and a “real” job? You got it. Stop my wandering, settle my soul, skip the journey, and just get it, finally? Make her okay, and I’ll never look back, again.
At 6:30 a.m. on Monday, I awoke feeling beat up and hung over, not from alcohol, but from stress and lack of real sleep. I looked at my cell phone, now incredulous that not one text, voice mail, missed call–nothing–had been left for me. Okay, whatever the outcome, whatever is happening, please, please, please make her okay.
At 7:00 a.m. on Monday, I called Mr. RG in D.C. “Oh, she didn’t call you? She said she would. She’s sick, but she’ll be okay. Dengue Fever. Pretty classic case.”
At 7:01 a.m. on Monday, I wanted to both strangle and hug Mr. RG. NO ONE CALLED ME, I told him. But because he was my messenger of good news, I could only sag into my pillows with relief and promise to Google this previously never-thought-of disease.
At 10:30 a.m. on Monday, I talked to a very tired, very sick RG Daughter, telling her to take all the meds given her, rest up, and that Mommy was working on a great time in Florida for her when she visited after New Years. Orange Bowl tickets to see our ‘Hawks take on Va. Tech? You got it. Snorkeling in the Keys? I can make that happen. Perfect weather and lots of beach time? Anything you want. Absolutely anything.
Just as soon as I tip the dumb bartender 25 percent again for her rudeness, never call out no matter how horrible I feel, buy some weed for my neighbors and smile at them when they keep me up all night, quit my kvetching about work, allow only one day a week for selfish introspection so that I can count my blessings the other six days, and hug you to pieces and never let you go when I see you next week.
Yeah, let’s make that deal. Done.