Despite my need for contact lenses and occasional lapses that result in the wearing of only one of them, I like to think that I’m a pretty perceptive guy. I can read body language, between lines, and Lynnette’s passive-aggressive wifespeak. Alternately, I have a difficult time picking out silver lining because oh, my God, that storm cloud is so bleak and ominous. But I’m going to try anyway.
I would have preferred to live my entire life without having to experience anything like Avery’s ordeal, but since we’re here, we’ve had to make the most of it. The following is a list (in no particular order) of unintended consequences – positive ones – that have arisen from this terrible situation.
*Daddy’s Quiet Time. Since I began spending weeknights in Avery’s room, I get about two hours a night of completely uninterrupted peace (you know, unless Avery decides to interrupt me). I use this time to grade work, watch wrestling with the sound off, and unwind. I’ve been getting to bed at about 9 PM and I have to say I feel pretty good throughout the day.
*Expanded Time With Lynnette. When Lynnette took off of work those first two weeks of Avery’s illness, those were two extra weeks we spent together. Obviously, the context was almost exclusively negative, but we spent a lot of time together in the van, in traffic, in waiting rooms, and in Avery’s room. Since there wasn’t a whole lot to do, we talked a lot. About everything. Usually, we’d only have the nights and weekends, and we’d feel the pressure to fill them with fun stuff, so conversations weren’t a huge priority. But during those first two weeks, there was no pressure. Neither of us was going to go anywhere. That time together made me wish neither of us ever had to work again. I miss you, Love.
*Pokemon Go Exploring. Again, I am a 36-year old man and my two hobbies are watching professional wrestling and playing Pokemon. As attractive as that might might make me on the open market, I could never leave Lynnette because she understands how much I love this stuff. Once a weekend (twice if I’m super lucky!) Lynnette drives Madison and me into Kaka’ako for what Mad calls the “Poke Marathon”. Coral Street is lined with lured Poke Stops and we walk up and down hoping for rare and powerful Pokemon. Lynnette plays too, but she mostly comes along as a favor to us. This is the undisputed highlight of my week. Sleeping in my own bed on Friday nights is a close second.
*Getting to Know Town. Because we’ve spent so much time at the hospital (and because I’ve been driving to Kaka’ako and the Aquarium so damn much), I’ve attained a better understanding of the layout of town. I am Aiea born and raised, but moved out to Mililani when I got married. I only went into town to play baseball or to shop at Ala Moana. A conversation from two weeks ago:
Lynnette: Take Date down to McCully, then turn right.
L: This is Date. Stay here. Now ride it all the way down to McCully.
P: OK. MADISON, ARE YOU GETTING ALL THE STOPS?
Madison: Yeah, dad!
L: No, this is Citron.
L: It’s fine. Just keep going.
P: Wait. I know where we are. We’re by the WASHUUUUUUU!
*We pull up near a building with a sign that features a character from a foreign language and the word “washuu”.
P: See! Washuuuuuuu!
I’ve grown since then. Also, living in town is awesome.
*Extra Time With Cole and Madison. During Avery’s first two weeks in the PICU both Madison and Cole weren’t allowed in the room. While this wasn’t a problem when family members visited, it was something of a math issue when Lynnette and me went to the hospital. Only one of us could visit Avery at a time because the other had to watch the kids. This worked out for about a week until Cole started to realize that going to the hospital meant he’d be sitting around doing nothing for a few hours. Our plans morphed. I’d drop Lynnette off at the hospital, then take Madison and Cole some place in town. Yes, these places were always rife with lit Pokemon stops, but it was always a good time. Cole rolled around on a mat and picked at the grass. Madison got to wade in calf-deep water behind the aquarium. We went for snacks at Ala Moana. But my favorite part of every adventure like this was waiting until sunset. I’d take the two kids behind the aquarium and set them right up against the wall with the ocean and sun behind them. Every time, I’d try to snap a picture of them – even though I knew the shot would be back lit and horrible. Still, it seemed like a great thing to try for.
*Alone Time with Gravy. I don’t blame my parents or in-laws for hovering around Avery. But between them, Avery’s other family members, the doctors and nurses, and Lynnette, it can be something of a challenge to make some quiet time with the Gravy Boat. But once people leave for the night and the nurses swing by to suction her at 8, it’s just me and an irate Avery. Last night she was so gassy that she was pulling off the impressive simultaneous cough/fart. It took me some time and a lot of Stevie Wonder to get her to calm down. When she finally fell asleep, I placed her in the crib. You know that scene in the first Mission: Impossible when Tom Cruise is suspended from the ceiling? You remember how tense that was? That’s what it’s like putting her down. I don’t want to screw it up. So when she’s finally down (because I lower her at a rate of 1 inch every 3 seconds), I take a huge, quiet step back. I hope her eyes don’t open. When I’m convinced she’s out, I take a shower. Two nights ago I got out of the shower to the sound her her crying. Last night, silence. I walked into the room and Avery was awake and staring at me. “What’s up?” I said. Nothing. “Can’t sleep?” I said. Nothing. I smiled. She smiled back. I stood next to the crib and slowly tapped one of her legs.
“Do you want to talk about the things you miss?” I asked her. She blinked slowly. “Okay,then,” I said. I continued tapping her leg.
“You must miss Abby, your favorite puppy. What about all your toys? Your fake chicken leg? You remember that? Cole likes the hamburger bun, but you like the drumstick, yeah? What about Cole’s dump truck? I’m a power dump truck! I rumble down the road, moving my load from here to there! Do you miss the DJ booth? What about the magical musical turtle? You know what? Mem moved out the mat with the magical musical turtle! You guys are too big for it already! I know! I was mad, too! Let’s scold Mem when she gets back tomorrow. Do you miss trying to climb on the couch? What about on the entertainment stand? I bet you do. When was the last time you stood up? Can you stand up with all the bulking you’ve done, Chubby Girl? Nahnahnah. I can’t wait to get you home because I miss you. I think Cole thinks he’s the boss of the house now. You have to come home and remind him who the greatest troll of all is, yeah? You miss Cole Boy? Me too…”