This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is "hospitals."
My dad died at a hospital, after a weeklong stay. Complications from diabetes landed him there, but it was a blood clot in his lungs that took him away from us. That was almost 18 years ago and I still think of him often.
I remember sitting in the waiting room, completely numb and spent, while my brother and my mom dealt with doctors and arrangements. I was 21 years old, way too young to lose my father. In my grief, I tried to trick myself into feeling his presence, imagined his ghost at the door to the waiting room, watching over me. I very much wanted it to be true, for me to be able to say goodbye to him. But it wasn't. There was no shadowy presence by the door. I was all alone.
The day my oldest niece was born, my mom and I were pacing that waiting room like crazy. A nurse came out to show us a beautiful girl. I was sixteen and had never seen a newborn at such close range, much less one who shared my blood. It was such a thrill. The next day I was taking the college entrance examination test, and during our lunch break I convinced a group of friends to drive me over to the hospital to visit. Good times.
Thirteen years later, I gave birth to my oldest daughter in the same hospital my niece was born, the one by the sea. I had been going to an OB-GYN practice that had several doctors, and I had been encouraged to see all of them at one point of my pregnancy, so that when the time came, I was familiar with the doctor on call. I saw them all, except for one, the youngest of them all. It turns out he was the doctor on call when my labor came, and he was fantastic.
I had a natural birth. I refused the epidural but could not handle the pain, so they gave me Demerol on an IV. Shortly after Paula was born, a nurse handed me a quivering newborn, still covered in blood and fluids. I hardly had a chance to realize what was going on, and promptly fell asleep from the meds. A couple of hours later, I woke up in a recovery room and they brought my daughter to me, wrapped in a bundle. I held her in my arms and was overcome with such love and emotion that I could not hold back the tears. She was the most beautiful being I had ever seen, and I instantly felt a bond such as I had never before experienced.
At that time I also felt a presence by the door, looking down upon us. Maybe I imagined it in my postpartum fatigue. Or maybe my father was paying his respects.