Blog Party VIII: The Returns
That was the question I posed last week. So many changes in life are permanent. We lose things that we'll never find. Friends and family move, and sometimes communication dwindles and ceases. People die. It's been thousands of years since Jesus rose from the dead. When something lost is found again, even something trivial, we appreciate it.
Back when I was in college, my family had our worst Thanksgiving ever. My dad had been experiencing odd feelings whenever he walked fast, something he described as a burning in his chest, like breathing cold air. A few visits to the doctor confirmed that he had major clogged arteries in his heart. He got second and third opinions over time, especially after one doctor told him his choices were to have bypass surgery or go home and sit in a chair and wait to die. My dad was in his early sixties at the time. The day before this one Thanksgiving he experienced major chest pains during the night, and we spent the night with him in the ICU at the hospital before they convinced my mother and I to go home, that there was nothing we could do. The next day they transferred him to a better hospital, and we watched them load him into an ambulance. The second the doors closed my mom broke down sobbing that the last time she saw her father was when he too was placed in an ambulance. I was very scared and probably never prayed as hard as I did then. An angioplasty would prove unsuccessful, and the doctor inadvertently burned my dad's artery with a laser. Nevertheless, my dad did return to us, thank God. He radically changed his diet, cutting out all foods high in fat and sodium. He began receiving chelation treatments to flush his arteries. He never did have surgery, and he never went back to that first doctor who gave him a few months to die in a chair. It's been twelve years and at 76, my dad is still going, strong and stubborn. Driving home from the parade the other day he mused aloud, “I wonder how many years I'll live.” He said he lived his life and wouldn't have any regrets if God took him now; there's nothing more he has to accomplish. He complained that among the things my mom procrastinates in doing, she hasn't bought a funeral plot because she's superstitious. I don't like to think about the inevitable any more than she does. I spoke to a friend yesterday whose grandmother just passed away at the age of 102! By today's standards, I don't think my dad is that old. I hope he's around a while longer, long enough to meet a daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
Of course, I have to mention the time I almost died. I should probably say one of the times I almost died. It's a little egotistical, so I'll consider this second return to be my health. I'm sure I've gone into the bloody details ad nauseum before, so this will be brief. I passed out at my desk in the Fall of 2000 after a defect in my intestines ruptured. There was a distinctive pop and gurgle in my right side. I felt dizzy, cold and sweaty. My ears began ringing louder and louder and my vision grew dim though my eyes remained open. I lay my head down on my desk, certain that I was finished. Deep in the darkness, a small part of me rebelled as the rest of me gave up. “Not yet,” I thought, “please God, not now.” I opened my eyes to see my phone inches from my face. I nudged it with my head, knocking the receiver off and managed to move one of my hands enough to dial my parents and let them know I'd need a ride to my doctor's appointment as the symptoms I'd been experiencing got decidedly worse. I held on, and managed to make it down to the parking lot, and to the doctor who agreed that yes, I definitely needed to be in a hospital as soon as possible. After a scary weekend of tests and uncertainty, a surgeon performed what was officially deemed “exploratory laproscopy” on paper. They had a guess as to what they were looking for, but what I had was particular hard to spot and diagnose, even after x-rays and other tests. Once I was opened up, they would know what the problem was for sure. They found and removed several inches of intestine containing a Meckel's Diverticulum, a birth defect present in two percent of the population, more commonly diagnosed in males than females, and normally found before the age of 2. I was 25 at the time. They informed me my appendix had also been removed, a standard procedure while they had cut me open already. The next few days were the worst, as I sat nauseous from morphine with a nasogastric tube constantly siphoning my stomach. I wasn't even allow to have water lest my internal stitching rip apart, a scary possibility. I spent 11 days in the hospital, another week with 20 staples down my stomach like a built-in zipper, and a total of a month away from work. For a long time I avoided sitting up when I got out of bed in the morning, carefully sliding to the side and standing up straight. In time life got back to normal, and I even joined the new company gym and started walking and eventually running. When I was a kid, I always got a pain in my side when I ran and coaches yelled at me not to be a wimp and push through it. Now the only thing that stops me from running are the gym workers who want to go home at closing time.
My cat Chirp, a stray we had taken in, once ran away on us. Our cats are indoor cats, even those that come from the outside originally. One day though he got past us, shooting out the door to chase one of the neighborhood strays we feed. There was a scuffling and some yowling, and we rushed to break them apart. A brown blur followed by a black-and-white one shot past us, across the lawn, down our hill of pachysandra and most terrifying of all, into the street. The two cats disappeared into the yards at the center of our block. Like crazy people, my mom and I walked around opposite streets calling him, shaking a container of crunchy cat food and meeting after each covering half the neighborhood unsuccessfully. I got my car and (carefully) drove out to the main road, looking for him along the street and then driving up the roads of the surrounding neighborhoods. After two hours total of searching on foot and by car, I dejectedly drove home, knowing my little friend was gone. I pulled in the driveway as a grin forced the corners of my mouth up. There, sitting on the step by our back door, sat the inimitable mister Chirp, licking his paw and looking up at me as if to say, “are you gonna let me in or what?” My parents didn't even know he had come back and was waiting there like nothing had happened. There have been other escape attempts, and though I know given a choice he would return to us, we're diligent in keeping him inside and safe.
I expected I would cover more pop culture references, such as the return of Optimus Prime, but ended up writing about more personal instances of returns. To touch on pop culture briefly, here's a list of some other characters who have returned with grand entrances, after quitting, faking their deaths or in some cases, actually being dead: Jack Bauer, Tony Almeida, Buffy, Angel, Superman, Optimus Primal, Wonder Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Doom, Quasar, Spike, and Jean Grey. I'll stop there before I list every comic book character ever and work my way back to Sherlock Holmes.
Don't forget to post links to your party contributions in the comments section, and I'll sum it all up tomorrow in an afterparty post. I look forward to seeing the things that have returned in your lives.
Labels: Blog Party