Unexpected Goodbye

Our Family
April 2013
As pre-op wrapped up, it was time for the moment I had been wondering about since we even breathed the word transplant: our pre-surgery goodbye. First Danny’s parents had their time. I stood out in the hall trying to remain calm and talk to my parents. Keyword would be trying as I wavered between emotional and calm. In general that day felt peaceful (more on that later)…. but every once in awhile the reality would smack me in the face. In these moments pre-surgery, the reality that we were at transplant trumped everything. It was so strange to think we had gotten the call, made the trip up, and coordinated our families. All these things had been such concerning logistics when we were preparing to list – it was crazy that just like that they were over. Now it was getting real.


What should I say at my turn? What was his family saying to him? What would he want to hear? “See you soon” and I should be emphatic about no long goodbyes cause this thing was gonna work and we would be back together in no time? Do I dare to even try to explain what is in my heart for this man? We have had a long road in our years together filled to the brim with ups and downs….. incredible highs and lows for just 11 years, but one thing remained so very true: I loved Danny with my whole being. There had been a myriad of emotions between us over the years – becoming one with a whole other person through marriage is about as complicated as it gets and we had walked that road with our faithful friend CF making it a unique journey. Yet it was so very simple – I loved him more than I had ever loved in my whole life because it was completely unconditional, completely. A love that consumes me, takes my breath away, and still leaves me feeling unworthy of him and the blessing. We had chosen each other and our life with everything we have. He needed to know that was a gift only he has ever given me and my life was completely transformed because of it. He made me a better person…. he made my life beautiful (even in our suffering I learned and grew …. truly our life together can’t be anything but a blessing)…. and I am confident no matter what life brings me, I will never love another person on this planet the way I love him. How do I say THAT – not totally lose it – and remind him this wasn’t a practice for a funeral, just the truth. What to do??


The door opened and his parents walked out. Tears filled my eyes and his mom warned me those weren’t gonna be welcomed…. to which I ignored…. but still I wanted Danny to feel comfortable. As I enter the room and see him sitting on the bed – I almost laugh, its just Danny. Waiting to see me, waiting to talk…. we both were worried about this moment and in reality it just us two looking at each other. I sit down next to him, grab his hand and we both search for where to start…. and the door opened. In walked one of our nurses, who said “I am so sorry to interrupt, I know this is important, but while you all talk, could your wife help you get this other gown on?” In so many hospital scenarios Danny will make sure he is calling the shots…. but not today, we all would do nothing but follow instructions.


This particular gown switch was a little more complicated too. Danny had to completely disrobe, while I held the wires and mini-heart machine already attached to him ….for folks who have logged the hours in hospitals, we looked pretty much like newbies. While the nurse continued filling out the paperwork and another buzzed around with his viles of blood for testing, they encouraged a little privacy by stepping into the bathroom. And for any of you who have been in a hospital bathroom – it can be little small, although this happened to have the toilet and shower as one apparatus to save a little space. So we got Danny situated and he opted to try and go to the bathroom. I mean, transplant surgery is sorta like a long road trip – gotta empty out. But with all the wires I had to stay and help. Already we had sorta chuckled to ourselves – in a movie, this isn’t how these scenes really go.


Finally things were wrapping up, we both wondered aloud about getting a little quiet time seated in the room to try this whole moment again. We can always ask, that seems reasonable…. so plan in place we got ourselves together and just as we went to exit and Danny hit the flush on the toilet…. the shower part turned on and started to spray him. At this we both just busted out laughing. Well here we go…. now all of our hospital gown efforts have to start over, Danny just got sprayed with what we all are hoping was clean water (pretty sure it was – but any wet from the toilet direction – uggg) and we can’t really ask for more time, because we have to ask for a new hospital gown and potentially new heart monitor connection.  What a goodbye….


At this point it took all of our time to get Danny cleaned up, re-gowned and back in the bed. We had about 30 seconds and the nurse said – “ready?” And that was it…. we opened the door to the rest of the family and would begin our trek down the hall. I was stunned with a mixture of humor and “this is so us” and a little worry. But as I would say  over and over again aloud and in my mind, God is telling me this isn’t it. He knew we did not need our moment because this wasn’t goodbye. My parents would spend the rest of the day assuring that was surely what it meant and now looking back it is just another funny part of our story.


My chance for sweet words would come…. and Danny got his chance in a letter that I never knew about until post surgery…. more to come…. but thank you to the broken toilet at Hopkins for a bit of an unexpected goodbye and more importantly some comic relief – on a tough day you relish those moments. And off we walked down the hall…..


Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!

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