There are those near losses that threaten to tear our families apart and bring us to our knees.
They turn non-believers into believers who pray for the first time since they were children, and then, sometimes, maybe… more often than not, the dark is followed by light.
The doctor called me to his side.
I remember talking… focused on every word that left my lips and carefully walking past what looked like a platter of instruments whose purpose was beyond me. Careful. Each step. In blue paper scrubs. Fearful I’d touch… do something to interrupt or call attention to myself.
I still cannot describe the smell in that O.R. The feeling in that room. It was calm. Organized. Full of life, yet sterile. It was odd, but considering the circumstances, it made perfect sense.
A man’s brain was exposed, and he was awake… talking to both me and the nurses. There was even a thumbs up. A joke. A chuckle.
The doctors’ shiny instruments moved around with ease and precision. There were little letters on tiny white squares that looked like stamps stuck to his brain. I thought of scrabble. I tried to find a connection… an understanding. I tried to connect the dots, but I didn’t know what was coming. I just didn’t.
All I knew is they told a story. Each square a part of a map that showed the specialists the way. Gave them insight into the do’s and don’ts as they worked ever so meticulously.
I just had hope in my heart.
I could do nothing… in that room… for him other than prepare to tell his story regardless. He had touched me in a way I rarely allow. He was so brave. So brave.
It has been years, but I still remember that day in the O.R., and just as important, the day we met. I remember the lines around his mouth as he smiled… and told his wife, whose eyes had begun to well up with tears, that it was going to be alright without ever saying a word. I was mic’ing her up. It was powerful.
I watched her shoulders drop. she seemed to feel comfort in his message, in his love… despite the unknown and that almost paralyzing fear in the pit of her stomach that had been growing from an inability to answer “what if.”
I could read it on her face. The thoughts. Emotions.
Afterwards, we stepped outside and we watched. Side-by-side. My photographer’s camera rolling as to not miss a beat.
Her husband and sons created the movie moment young girls dream of. She collected herself and smiled as she watched her boys.
From the outside, if you didn’t know their story… their reality… the preparation already underway inside their home to ready a young mother and her children for what would come next, this family seemingly had it all… in their backyard. Husband. Wife. Children. Green grass. A ball to play with.
… and he. The man of the house. The protector. The strength and determination. Did it all with a tumor in his head that threatened his life. It threatened to take it all away from those adorable little boys.
It’s hard because I’ve been the daughter in a similar reality. I was far older than his three sons who each in their own right mirrored their father in the most amazing way, but I was still not prepared because no one ever is or can be…
Like my father, he had decided it would turn out alright. Regardless.
And it did. He made it. He survived. Perhaps changed, but alive.
Soon, him and his wife would have another son. Life would go on. A life forever changed and a life that forever changed mine.
Strength. Kindness. Hope. Love. Family.
Perhaps those moments… the moments of raw, sometimes uncontrollable emotion that leave us breathless and wondering why me, why him, why us… have purpose and play a vital role in the tangled web that becomes our reality. Our today. Our tomorrow. Our future. Our soul. The fuel in our desire and in our love.
Dedicated to Ryan and Hilda Brown.