"Last session was rough for you."
"It's just that I know we're nearing the end of Mom's life and it's hard to deal with, especially now."
"Why is it hard to deal with now?"
"Because I am a mom without my mom to seek advice from.My sisters are great, but...well, they're not Mom. And I miss her."
"That's natural. Are you willing to start from where we left off?"
"I think I can."
"Good, let's begin there."
"The alarms went off all at once, and there was such a commotion..."
Nurses crowded the small room, waking Amie from her nap. She scrambled into the hall, where we stood in the shadow of Dad's arms, huddled together like newborn kittens. As quickly as the cacophany of shouts and orders began, it ended, and the nurses and doctors filed out of the room.
The doctor came up to where we were standing, her eyes grim.
"She's stable for now, but her heart is getting weaker by the hour. We're moving her to ICU as soon as we can get a bed." She patted me on the arm and looked over our heads to Dad. "Do you want to call anyone, make arrangements?"
"She's already done that," he said, his voice barely above a whisper. We could feel his arms trmble as he struggled to maintrain composure. I disentangled myself from his embrace and stood up as straight as I could manage.
"I'll call Gramma and see if I can reach Alyssa on her cell." I looked at the doctor, who nodded, her eyes lined with concern. "How much longer do we have, do you think?"
"Not more than a few days, at most," she said. A small sob escaped from Amie, and I turned to see Dad bury his head in her hair. "Thank you, Doctor."
After calling a cab for Dad and Amie, I waddled back up to my room and grabbed my cell. I called my sisters and my grandparents, and checked the time. It would be about seven-thirty am in Chicago, so I dialed my editor's number. She picked up on the third ring.
"Andrea, how are things?"
"Not so good. My mom doesn't have much time left."
"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. What can we do?"
"I'm glad you asked that, Janice. I think we may need to revisit my contract, maybe make some changes until the first of the year."
"How do we need to change it? Do you need more time off?"
"Actually, I was thinking..." I laid out the idea that had been forming in my head since the plane touched down at Portland International Airport. I was nervous and fearful I'd lose my job, but to my delight, Janice was more than pleased with the idea.
"I know it's not political analysis, but-"
"Pregnancy, childbirth, single parenting--they're all hot topics for print lately. I think this would be a fabulous idea. Plus, you can work from Portland and be near to your family. I'll talk to the Living editor and see what we can do."
"Thank you Janice. This is only temporary, and with the elections this year, I bet I could work it into both sections."
"I don't doubt it. Get some rest, and I'll call you this evening." With that, the line went dead, and I sagged back into the hospital bed with relief. I closed my eyes and drifted off into an uneasy sleep until the nurses came in to discharge me three hours later.
Amie met me at the elevator doors in the lobby. "Mom's been moved to ICU this morning, so she can't have visitors for the next twenty-four hours. I decided to see if you were hungry?" Her eyes were still puffy and raw, her voice scratchy. I grasped her hand in mine and tried to smile.
"Famished." I made small talk the whole way to Elmer's for breakfast, telling her about the conversation with Janice as we slid into our seats at the restaurant.
"So, you're staying in Portland?" she asked. "For how long?"
"At least until the end of the year."
"And the babies?"
"Are due in February, so I'm just going to stay here until December. My contract is up in December with the Tribune, so at that point, they'll either renew it or they'll release me from it, which means I can stay permanently."
"So, where will you stay? Your room is, well, destroyed." A flicker of guilt crossed her face, and I patted her hand.
"I'm going to stay with Alyssa at the farm. They have that guest room adjacent to the office. It's quiet with the kids in school and I'll be able to work." Amie's face relaxed at that, and she sipped her coffee.
"Who should we call about the room being repaired?"
"Alyssa is on it already. Big Andy has some friends that are general contractors. They're stopping by this afternoon...which reminds me. Why aren't you in school today?"
"Dad called me off. I haven't been home but to change clothes and shower."
I signaled the waiter. "We'll take our orders to go, please."
"So your editor was okay with the arrangements."
"Yes. She and the Lifestyle editor thought it was brilliant, and so I worked the rest of the contract out."
"Did they renew it?"
"Actually, yes. The articles were so popular, it was promoted to a Sunday front-pager at the end of November. It's been there ever since, and it came with a nice bonus and less hours I had to work. It's been a great help."
"Are you back at work now?"
"Yes, but it's hard. I do articles on being a new mom, but I feel like it's not the whole truth, and I feel like it can run to fluff, which is not me. I can't talk about the dark side of my life now as a single mom of multiples, because I legally can't. It's very restrictive."
"Well, it could complicate matters. Does that bother you?"
"I'm not sure it bothers me to not talk about it in my articles--but the whole situation hurts me more than I can explain."
"We'll discuss that next week."
31 October 2008
"Last session was rough for you."