I’m watching how Superheroes are made. Mine is getting a care lesson from the ostomy nurse, gearing up for the next weeks of recovery, not flinching as she shows him how to care for his small intestine that is now protruding through his stomach.
There have been nights of pain so severe he nearly broke my hand as I held his but not one utterance of “why me?”. There has been only plans for the next day and acknowledgments that he – and we – are so lucky, that things could be so much worse. There’s been gratitude for the nurses and for Mom staying close and even concern that I am not resting enough.
So now I know how superheroes happen. They aren’t born, they’re made as they weather storms without letting the deluge force their gazes down or inward but instead keep focusing on hope on the horizon.
A little over a year and a half ago, Thing1 climbed a mountain, walking up the drive from our house about 2 in the afternoon and climbed five miles up the back of Mount Equinox that divides Sandgate from Manchester, VT. He circumnavigated land owned by Carthusian monks and negotiated a right of way with a bear that literally crossed his path on the way back. He watched as storms went by and took shelter for a few minutes as needed.
But he kept climbing.
Thing1 had been sick for almost a year. He told me later he had kept climbing because he needed that win. I know he kept climbing because, regardless of his fears or any obstacles that come his way, he is willing to keep going. He will keep moving forward, even if he has to go slowly.
He’s going slowly today. He’s stood up for a few minutes and then needed a two-hour nap to recover. The first time, I steadied him. The second time, he insisted I only spot him.
He’ll be standing again today. He’ll expend a mountain’s climb of energy to walk from his bed to the nurse’s station, but, even as I watch him wince as he works to inflate his lungs fully, I know he’ll be at the top. He’ll be walking down that mountain with a smile on his face, even if the sun has long set and he knows his mom is still worrying sick about him.
Because worrying is what moms may do, but climbing mountains is what kids are born to do.
It feels like being in an airport. It’s not just the carpeted hallway. It’s the waves of people walking to and fro, the food court and cafeteria, and the gift shop that keeps people busy as they wait.
We, with Thing1,are on journey that’s too far and complicated to drive ourselves. The Big Guy had to work first thing this morning, so the boys and I made the two Hour drive ahead of him, leaving our still dark hill and riding over the mountains into the sun.
The ride was quiet. Thing1 was pensive. Thing2 was asleep.
We know the hospital routine now. We check in. They usher us back to what will be a recovery room for some people and a preop for us. He changes into his gown. They set the IVs. A surgeon and anesthesiologist and host of nurses come in asking overlapping and different questions about his current state. Thing2 entertains all of us with sixth grade jokes, even getting his older brother to pose for a snapshot in his surgical cap.
There’s a last joke, then a kiss and a longer hug. Then they take him to the operating room. I have been swallowing tears all day and not knowing exactly why. The surgery is routine for the doctor. It is so much less dangerous than it was 20 years ago.
Thing1 has been in the operating room for almost 3 hours now. He has another two or three hours to go. I waffle between telling myself everything’s going to be fine and simply hoping for it.
He will wake up without his colon. He will wake up cured but on another shore with new challenges. There will be learning to care a for an ostomy while he waits for the next procedure. There will be learning to live with pain, a lesson he’s been learning for most of the last two years.
I know he will be OK, but as I write this, I am swallowing hard, wondering how this leg of the journey will end.
I keep coming back to the spot – on the way to school, when I’m daydreaming.I come back to the dappled light to soothe away worries and stress. I’ll be visiting here in my head today while my firstborn is under anesthesia receiving the surgical “cure” for his pancolitis. The light helps me focus on hope for the next five hours, and it seems more productive than worrying.
We drove home from dinner through a mix of fog and moonlight. They filtered through the trees in the mountains.
“Moonlight in Vermont,“ I said.
“This really looks like Halloween,“ said sing one.
“It’s like sleepy Hollow,“ said my husband when we got home. And it got me thinking why I love the woods when we are surrounded by nothing but misty moonlight, feeling like the soles of the people and creatures who have walked these hollows before are swirling around us.
I’m not afraid of the dark or what’s walking in it through these woods. The woods are spiritual, magical, and the moonlight glowing through the nearly naked trees just makes it easier to see.