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An Anniversary
by carrie (guest writer)   October 24, 2005

carrie's dad It was a normal Tuesday. I had spent the morning at work doing what I usually do which included lots of emails and surfing the web. I went home for lunch. So far, so good.

My phone rang. That was odd. It's rare that my phone ever rings. Steve is usually the only one who calls and I was with him. I looked at the caller ID. My aunt. Huh. Oh god. It must be my grandparents! Something's happened to one of them.

Little did I know it would hit much closer to home.

I remember answering the phone and hearing the words "your dad is sick. They flew him to Rochester. Your mother wants you to come as soon as possible." I felt the breath suck out of me. I felt my knees go to water and a sense of being crushed. I instantly was sobbing and trying to comprehend what she was saying and asking her what happened.

I remember Steve's face as he came around the corner wondering what news could cause me so much pain. The look on his face, him holding me, more tears and questioning of my aunt all swirled and danced in my brain. My aunt's voice was calm and steady. I was freaking out. She said that my Mom asked if Steve could come with me as she didn't want me to drive. Rochester is about 220 miles away.

After that things were swimming. I raced around the kitchen putting things away. I tried to figure out how I would/should get my car which was still in the shop. I threw several things in my suitcase - not really seeing any of it. I emailed (!) my best friend to tell her I wouldn't be corresponding with her again that day. I think I emailed her because I couldn't bear to say the words out loud. I couldn't stand the thought of that out-loud acknowledgement of the horrors that were happening right now. Before we got out the door she had called me, as had one of my cousins who was in a hysterical fit herself. Another call from a friend before I left offering support and well wishes came too. It was all so surreal.

On the drive to Rochester I sat mostly silently staring out the window and wondering how this could possibly be happening to me. I was very selfish, I admit. I kept thinking oh my god, what if he dies? What if he never walks me down the aisle? Holds his grandkids? How will I possibly survive without him in my life? Tears all the while sliding down my face and pooling in my lap. It was a truly miserable experience.

I wanted some news! I was frustrated. I called the cell phones I had and got brief updates. He was out of the OR for the procedure. I didn't even know what that was. He was still unconscious. There was a lot of family present.

We pulled up to St. Mary's Medical Center and raced through the lobby. I asked where he was and got directions. I remember walking through the hallways and trying to keep it together. Walking down the corridor to the Neuro ICO Waiting Room. As I opened the door there were about 20 other Rossows there looking solemn. Waiting. I hugged my Mom, my Sister, my aunts and uncles and cousins and took my place among them.

My mom was doing okay. She is an amazing woman. Strong. Calm. And incredible. I was a wreck. It's no secret that I've always been the dramatic one. The emotional one. We sat. We waited. We chuckled as the various cell phones rang with all their silly chimed tunes. We had pizza. It was all so weird.

Later that night they said a few of us could go in. Have Carrie go in. She hasn't seen him yet. And I felt so bizarre. I felt that I was getting special treatment but not the kind of special treatment you ever want. I was being singled out because I was part of the immediate family. It was most dire for us.

My Dad laid there unconscious in the ICU. It was terrifying. I knew I had to be strong and support him even if he didn't know we were there but seeing him like that shifted my universe. My Dad is a superhero and here he lay, helpless. Lifeless.

He was breathing with the help of a tube, he was restrained, he was blinking and dripping and there was a hole in his skull. He wouldn't wake up.

After watching one of the doctors try to wake him by using smelling salts and other awkward techniques I felt... empty. I felt like I was seeing something I wasn't supposed to see. It wasn't time for me to be the adult and to step in the role of caretaker.

That night passed as did the next and the next. Hazy, exhausted, emotionally drained. My Dad woke up the next day but was fuzzy for several days. The first time I saw him and he called me "Care-Bear" I knew that things would be okay.

He was in the hospital for several weeks. He had a headache for 8 weeks or so afterwards. He slowly got better and better and today you'd never know that a year ago he had a subarachnoid hematoma.

Some anniversaries are marked with celebrations. Others are marked with a silent nod to some force greater than me, thanking it for another year with my Dad and teaching me a million things about perspective, love and family.

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