Sunday, February 17, 2008

Tim, Carpet, and Towels

Christina is a colorful and prominent square on my patchwork quilt of love and support. And I am a decorated officer in the troops she calls in during times of celebration or trouble. We are the kind of friends who can call each other in the middle of the night.

Night came when Christina's dad died 8 years ago. Night came when I was diagnosed with MS last fall. And night came again on Saturday morning.

Christina's husband Tim was admitted to the hospital last week for pneumonia. During our daily telephone conversations on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, she was concerned but "handling" it. (Christina and I are both very good handlers.) She was busily moving into a new temporary apartment in Boston, taking care of their son, and visiting Tim in the hospital, trusting that the doctors and all the antibiotics were going to make him better. Yesterday morning, as I was trying to get the kids out the door to go with their dad overnight, the phone rang and I let the machine pick up. My hand was on the doorknob when I heard Christina's voice break as she told me that, if his oxygen level didn't improve by Monday, they were going to test Tim for lung cancer--the disease that took her father's life at the age of 54, just two and a half weeks after diagnosis.

I gritted my teeth, robotically got the children outside, put the recycling into the bins, and turned the kids over to John (after he had to bring me a can of gas because I still miss the beep on my old car that told me when I was almost out of fuel and I didn't have enough gas to start my car--for the second time!). Finally, finally, in what felt like hours after Christina called (but was only about 15 minutes), I was alone and able to call her back.

Christina told me that Tim met with a doctor that morning who told him that, unless his oxygen level increased significantly, they were going to have to do a biopsy of his lungs. I listened, I recited comforting platitudes like "We're not there yet, it's only Saturday," I asked what I could do, and didn't believe her when she said, "nothing." I insisted that she call her mother and ask her to take her son, so she could go into the hospital and talk to the doctors herself. I asked her to keep in touch and then I stalked her with phone calls every hour.

In the meantime, Ken and members of his committee (including two ex in-laws), installed carpet in my living room and dining area. I bought the carpet and they did all the rest. Ken's son Kenny, and his nephew, P.J. met us at my condo to lift the humungous roll of carpet up and over my balcony railing. They wouldn't accept my offer of money, either. Then, P.J's dad, who is the brother of Ken's ex-wife, spent 5 hours in my house, rolling out, cutting, gluing, and tucking carpet with Ken. They insisted I needed to just get out of the way, so I ran to Lowes for more glue, cleaned carpet adhesive off the cat's paws when Pepper ran out on the gluey floor, and brought out a boombox to fill the working man silence.

I continued to stalk Christina by phone every hour, getting her voicemail again and again and trying to just wait until she needed me. I needed her to need me. I needed to be there to support her . Finally, just about the time Ken and Pete were making the last cut and I was running out to return the carpet roller to Taylor Rental, Christina called me back and told me that she wanted me to come in and go out to dinner with her and sleep over if I wanted to.

Ken and I had post-Valentine's Day plans that included a tiny little red number I bought in preparation for this weekend. Although I was disappointed, I knew I wanted and needed to be with my friend and that the red lingerie would be just as sexy a day later. Ken, who not only knows how to put in carpet but also shares his feelings, believes in a Higher Power, cares for his children, rocks my world, and calls me on my shit, told me that he understood I needed to be there for my friend and that he wouldn't expect anything else. He also drove me into Boston to meet Christina and visit Tim at Mass General.

Tim looked better than expected but very scared--his smile didn't quite make it to his eyes. He had tubes in his nose giving him oxygen, an IV in his hand, and a monitor showing his oxygen and heart rates. I kissed him hello, chit chatted with him and Christina's aunt and uncle who were visiting and then Christina and I went out to dinner.

When we left the restaurant about 9:30, we went on a mission for towels which Christina had neglected to bring to the temporary apartment. Have you ever tried to find towels in Boston proper on a Saturday night? It's not like there's a Walmart on every corner or that Store 24 sells Linens-n-Things stock. I suggested that we go into a hotel and steal some towels (because I thought it would make a great story) but Christina nixed that. She can be such a fuddy duddy sometimes.

After walking in and out of every drug store in the North End, we returned to Christina's apartment, googled several different stores in various Boston neighborhoods, and started calling places. We were told that the 24-hour Walgreens in Roxbury Crossing carried towels. Unfortunately, we neglected to ask for the towels' dimensions. When we drove to the store, we discovered that they had a vast array of face clothes, kitchen towels, and auto towels. Since the auto towels were in packages of 4 and they were about the size of hand towels, we opted for those. I also picked up a pink plaid pair of jammies, Christina bought two hampers, and we got a couple face cloths. I am not a newbie to late night Walgreens shopping since it was one of my favorite ways to escape home when I was married. Christina, however, thought the two for $7 pop-up hampers were the best thing since sliced bread.

When I called Ken the next day and told him the towel search story, he asked why we didn't just take towels from Tim's hospital room. OMG!!!!

Back home now with my full-size bath towels, I am praying for Tim's good health.

1 comment:

  1. Hey--Cool ClusterMap! When we hit the road, I'll check your blog and add to the dots!