Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Showers

I had plans to run home yesterday after work, but only made it as far as the Lincoln Memorial before pulling up lame. A weird popping in my knee sent me turning around in search of the Foggy Bottom metro station, tail between my knees.

I was acutely disappointed, but cheered by the vision of Clementine bounding down the sidewalk to greet as I walked home from the train. She was dressed head to toe in rainbows, looking like she had escaped from a rainbow penitentiary. I had but a few moments to relax. Peter was home, too; Elise picked him up from school at noon after he found himself in the nurse's office with a stomach ache. He was busy transforming himself into a Transformer, asking me to help rubber band plastic sticks to his arm to stand in for the exhaust pipes a la his hero, Optimus Prime.

Elise ran down to fetch Sam from the bust stop then, after depositing him at the house, walked for an hour. The running store behind our house was holding a fun run/shoe sale in the parking lot, and the kids climbed to the top of the wooden fence that had been uprooted during the last big windstorm. Just like the Lil Rascals, they were spying on the runners in lime-green, moisture-wicking wear through the knot holes. I listened to a young women leading the runners through stretches over a PA system while I lit the grill and salted the steaks, fuming over the irony.

As we ate, a dark line of clouds massed to the east. The running store broke down their tents and took the PA system, Gatorade coolers, and power bars inside the store. I checked the weather on my phone. There was an 80% chance of rain at the eight o'clock hour only. Afterwards, clear skies. I read: fast-moving and strong. Spring.

I made dinner. The steaks, roasted red potatoes, asparagus, and grilled brussel sprouts all turned out well. My homemade, yeast-less flatbread didn't. Then, when it came time to grill the garlic, I completely ignored Elise's instructions to chop off the top, wrap it in foil, then drizzle olive oil over it. The only part I remembered was to wrap it in foil. When it came out of the oven it was a dry husk of roasted garlic. I admitted I had to many balls in the air, but Elise insisted it wasn't ruined. I believe she was being overly kind.

After dinner, I pretended my phone was ringing off the hook with calls for the kids. The Video Game Academy called for Sam offering him a free scholarship to play video games all summer. Sadly, though, their cafeteria served no vegetables. Was he still interested? Peter, got a call from Optimus Prime. Clementine got a call from the Unicorn Stables regarding her unicorn riding lesson. Elise got a call from Ben, her Zengo (cycling class) instructor.

Then, my phone rang for real.

Elise had jumped into the shower, and I had started clearing the table when Clementine ran into the kitchen to tell me my phone was ringing for real. I missed the call. It was my aunt calling from Florida.

I tried calling her back, but there was no answer. I texted her, "Did you try to call me?"

"Yes," she replied. "At pharmacy."

My mom had been released from the hospital and was headed home. My aunt was with her, as was a nurse who was to teach her how to hook herself up to her feeding tube.

My aunt called me a minute later, crying.

It had all become too much. I couldn't blame her. She said she was feeling emotional, because she hadn't eaten all day. This, after the conversation I had had with the nurse earlier that afternoon. The conversation where I finally had the opportunity to ask what a TPN line was and what a peg tube was. I had had so many terms thrown at me over the last few weeks and months I didn't know what was what. I was partially living in this world and partially in another, where the acronyms and jargon aren't important until they are.

Just then, a loud crack of thunder rumbled the house. All three kids ran from their room to me, sitting on the couch in the living room. I sat Sam on my lap.

I told Jackie I could come down. She said not to come yet. I don't know what to do. I don't know that anyone does in this situation. Ever, really.

I tucked the kids back in bed, then laid down on the floor in their room. We listened to the rain fall and the grumble of thunder gradually fade into the distance. Clementine fell asleep first. Then, Sam. I got up slowly and kissed Peter on the cheek, wishing him good night, telling him in hushed tones I hoped his stomach felt better in the morning.

We have a ritual bedtime routine. It involves us tapping our index fingers together, then locking it in, as though we are turning a key in a key hole. Then we "scrub noses" and I kiss him on the cheek. Finally, I say, "Good night, sweet boy." To which he always responds,

"Good night, sweet daddy."

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