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The bullets were still in Dana.
And where he had been torn open by those same bullets was open, covered by wraps. He was being constantly examined for surgery upon surgery – they were not even at the point of getting the bullets out of him.
His feet and legs were in pressurized leg wraps that would automatically work on his blood circulation.
Those leg things really impressed me.
They would wooze and wheeze and pump air all around my big brother’s legs and feet and they made me happy for technology. I remember being in the room with my (youngest) niece Yu Rou. I was peppy and full of matter-of-fact cheer. I’m not sure how much of that pep was for her, how much was for me.
My own feet.
Being in the space of waiting was like being in limbo.
When I was 4 years old, I went through the windshield of a car. What I remember most is that same sense of being in limbo, being in this intangible space, feeling as connected with my mother (- who had been driving) and with God as is perhaps possible from within the confines of our physical selves.
I remember how foggy everything was after the accident, as I sat there, drenched in the biting cold of shock, blinded by blood.
That space of being with Dana and waiting by his side was a similar fog.
I was grateful that Dana was in a Catholic hospital.
Even while I found the statues to be more than a little hokey (- white Jesus!), I still found them – all of the symbols and paintings of religious imagery – to be stabilizing; tethers to grip on to.
I loved turning a corner in the hospital and finding prayers on the wall or a painting of an angel.
The biggest tethers were, of course, my kids.
Caring for them and tending to their needs wasn’t just a tether to this world in that time of limbo; they were ropes. Big ropes of vibranium.
On one hand, I wanted to be able to stay by Dana’s side and pray and help him – and a part of me resented that my husband would not take care of the kids for me in this time, but part of me was grateful for the vibranium.
I may have floated away without it.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.