I miss the hotel's wake-up call, and I have 10 minutes to throw on some clothes and rush to the hospital before they wheel Mom off to surgery.
I pull on yesterday's jeans and slide into a T-shirt and a sweater. The beauty of not having a lot of stuff is that I don't have many decisions to make. I wish these were cleaner.
By the time I reach the elevator bank at the hospital, I'm sweating anyway and gasping and my legs ache. It's only a few blocks, but I don't run much, and running isn't the same as walking.
Elevator time has its own physics, and I'm out of practice. It takes forever for a car to arrive. After people flow in, almost every button is lit. I don't have a watch, so I don't know how much longer I have, or whether I'm too late.
The hallway looks familiar and I skitter toward the room.
They both look up.
"I made it!"
"Just barely," Becky points out. Thanks, Becky. This is starting to feel more normal, in a weird way.
"How are you?" I ask Mom.
"As ready as I'm going to be," she says, and I hope she isn't scared. How can she not be scared? It's been one long, frightening tunnel. Or maybe I'm projecting. That's silly. She must be scared. I take her hand.
"What have you girls decided to do with your time today?"
"Mom, we'll be waiting for you," Becky says.
"Well, get something to eat, at least--something good."
Someone in a uniform comes in, and Becky and I shrink toward the walls. She checks Mom's chart and asks, "Are you ready?" She sounds like Yes is the only answer, and like this happens every day.