Well, that was one of the longest days of our recent history.
“Don’t bother parking the car and walking me in,” Tracey told me at nine-thirty this morning. “Just drop me off out front.”
This wasn’t part of our plan today, but it made sense.
We’d agreed last night today wasn’t about Tracey’s operation, it was about distracting the kids so they didn’t spend the day as emotional wrecks.
The kids had demanded they come along today. There was to be no being babysat at Nanny’s or Auntie Bel’s. They weren’t going to be farmed out while their Mum went in for surgery. They were going to be right there by my side hanging on every phone call or message from the doctors, just like me.
The memory of being ‘protected’ two years ago and left in the dark while their mother edged her way closer and closer to death still weighs on the minds of three of our kids – Miss13, Master12 and Miss10. I’m embarrassed to say they feel guilt at being duped as to the seriousness of her situation at the time.
“Why aren’t we going in?” Master12 demanded, as word of this new development worked its way to the seats behind us.
“Mum just has to fill in some paper work,” I explained to him, and the other four kids who’d quickly taken up ranks protesting with him. “Seriously, guys, this is the boring bit. Mum goes in and waits around for ages until her operation.” They still weren’t convinced, so I put it into a context they’d understand. “It would be cruel if we stayed because Mum can’t eat and we’re going to go have breakfast.”
I think it’s a mark of how strong their mother’s genes are in these munchkins that the word ‘breakfast’ won them over.
So six sets of arms were thrown around Tracey and kisses exchanged and I drove off wishing like fark I was walking in with her, but knowing I had a much more important job to do than sponge off her positive vibes.
“After breakfast,” I called over my shoulder to the kids, “who’d like to go see a movie?”
Tracey and I had looked this up the night before. Despicable Me 3 was showing. We figured, if I fart-assed around the shopping centre for a few hours, I could take them to the midday showing. This would get us out mid-afternoon and hopefully by the time we drove back to the hospital she’d be in recovery.
Only now I had nearly three hours until the movie started, and breakfast was the only thing we’d discussed to fill that space.
Fortunately, my kids came to my rescue.
“I want sushi,” said Miss13.
“No!” screamed Miss7. “I hate sushi!”
“Is there somewhere I can get a bacon wrap?” Master12 asked.
By the time we’d walked the length and breadth of Chermside shopping centre in search of everyone’s favourite morning munchie – and three coffees for me – we barely had time to buy popcorn and frozen cokes for the movie.
Despicable Me 3 is, in case you’re wondering, another hilarious success. In parts, even I forgot why I was in there.
By the time we left the shops we’d also checked out the offerings at Build-A-Bear, Comic Book Heroes and K-Mart – buying a heap of stationary at that last one so they could make cards for their Mum at the hospital because the plan Tracey and I had come up with went to shit about the same time as the movie ended.
“That was awesome!” Master12 exclaimed as we came out of the cinema two hours later.
“Yeah!” screamed Miss10.
I was in the middle of agreeing when my phone vibrated.
This is it, I thought to myself. Mission accomplished.
Instead the message from a friend at the hospital read: 1:48pm. Tracey just went into theatre now.
The mission hadn’t even begun yet.
I felt as silly and lost as an unfit fighter who’d used all his energy shadowboxing from the change room to the ring.
In fact, it was six hours later (just after at 8:30pm) when Tracey was wheeled up into her ward and we were allowed in to touch her and kiss her and marvel at, even with the essential bandages that would be under those hospital blankets, how much of her belly was missing.
Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes today.
But mainly, again, thank you to RBWH and, especially, to Dr Jason Brown and his surgical team. This family is already so heavily in your debt ‘thank you’ seems inadequate.
The risks now are both the usual clots and the like, and things like infections from the mesh they put in her gut to tie the two sides of her belly together. It’s far from a sure thing, but it’s most likely to be fine. We’re well into the 80% likely to be complication free margins. To be honest, we haven’t had favourable odds like this at any point since Tracey had the initial aneurism.
In terms of this family, Tracey is our rock. She’s the glue. She’s the Sun. She’s without a doubt the fun.
She’s also the sensible parent.
And she’s my world.
It’s not that I can’t imagine life without her, I just don’t want to. As I said two years ago when things were quickly going to shit, Tracey makes my life worth living. She may not have been able to read that back then, but I know she’ll be reading this tomorrow on her phone while she lies there on the ninth floor waiting for us to come and visit.
We love you, Tracey. Be there soon.
Meanwhile, you better get to work looking at the kids’ artwork they did for you. You know there’ll be questions, and they poured their hearts and nerves into each and every rainbow, stick figure and bit of prose.
Raising a family on little more than laughs
This post is not sponsored at all