Friday, January 16, 2009
Dahlia, who's my father-in-law's nurse at Cedar's Sinai, is Jamaican and she believes in God. I fell into step with her along the bridge connecting the North and South towers of the hospital. "He's going to be okay, isn't he?" I said. "Oh, he's doing great. He's doing great. Trust in God" she said as she directed me towards the parking lot. "Thanks Dahlia," I said. "I'll see you tomorrow." It's funny but I can't think about that plane being landed on the Hudson River in Midtown Manhattan without getting goosebumps and a lump in my throat. The pilot was highly trained. His airmanship was impeccable. Sandy, who used to be a flight attendant for American, says it's what they call in the business a "picture-perfect landing." I know that he did everything right, as did the crew. It was a magnificent coming together of a perfect set of elements. But there was also a bit of angel-dust, don't you think? A little bit of magic sprinkled over the whole thing that you can feel when you look at the photograph of that huge white bird parked in the middle of the freezing river, and all the passengers lined up neatly on each wing, as if they were waiting for a ride at an amusement park. My father-in-law, John, thinks the same thing. He nodded vigorously as I was telling him my God theory. He is now propped up in bed, still with the tracheotomy tube, but today he has lunch, his first solid meal. Spaghetti and meatballs with spinach, all chopped up, followed by Jello and vanilla ice cream. He manages to eat half the spaghetti and it exhausts him, provoking the machine to bleat at us. "Does it hurt your throat?" I ask him. "Everything hurts" he mouths back. He puts my hand in his. His fingers are icy cold. He makes a circle with his thumb and index finger, like an Italian waiter. "She's the best" he mouths, cocking his head in Sandy's direction. "She's always here." "I know" I say and surprise myself by choking up, "we're so lucky to have her." They both look at me like I'm a ninny as the tears roll down my cheeks. Part of it is relief, seeing him so much better, and part of it is watching that kind of love and devotion in practise. It's pretty awe-inspiring stuff.