Chapter 9,864, in which I (FINALLY) stop being such a baby

It’s hard for me to know sometimes what I’m supposed to be doing here: tell what I’ve been up to or just entertain the troops, so to speak. It’s the dilemma of all columnists-and-bloggers who write to delight a weary public.

Anyway, I said the other day that I did some flying, which is how our learned about that we can no longer pack our snow globes in our carry-on bags, but I didn’t say where I was going or why.

I also didn’t say that I was nervous about the trip and not really getting it about how you have to be AT the airport two hours before the flight. Old Dave was away and I kind of lost focus. Two hours before the flight was to go Wheels Up I was still watching my documentary about Annie Leibowitz and sewing the hem into a pair of drapes. I also forgot to call the cab company to GET to the airport until 10 minutes before I needed it to come fetch me.

And then, trying to fix my hair, I burned my face in two places. Really burned it.

I was nervous because I was unsure of my ability to fulfill my mission here in Salt Lake City and care for this girl who has been part of our extended family since the spring of 1990.

Here are Annie and Susan back in high school, Annie in the Barnard T-shirt next to dark-eyed Sooz.)

About six months ago, Susan lost feeling in her face and began stumbling a bit at night, on her way to the bathroom, mostly, when the house was dark. It turns out she had an acoustic neuroma, a rare growth in her auditory canal that was pressing on some key cranial nerves . It didn’t look like It was going do any shrinking and it was leaning uncomfortably close to the brain stem.

She had surgery to remove it on July 25th. Her husband Kevin and her brother Gary were there in the hospital all that day and sent us all updates. (“Update: the ENT surgeon has finished making the opening in Sooz’s skull and the neurosurgeon is now removing the tumor. SO far it’s going well.”) TWO surgeons! Six hours!)

Once she was released five days post-op, a local friend came, then a college friend. Then Annie came for a week and I flew in the day Annie flew out. And another fleet of people will carry on when I leave, Susie’s dearest aunt, another college friend, Kevin’s parents… )

Our work – and my work this week – has been to buy/cook the meals, play with the baby, do the laundry and help dress the surgical site. ‘Sites’ I should say: there are two since the surgeons needed to patch the opening they made in her head with a bit of fat from her belly. (They made in her head with some fat from her belly. (Free lipo!” she had joked on the phone, but she frankly has no fat at all in her belly or anywhere else either which is why her tummy is so sore: they had to really dig to find enough.

I was nervous about how I would do all I needed to do with my problematic back and my thumbs that will no longer press down hard on the release of a carseat belt.

I was nervous about being able to lift little Peter and cajole him into doing what we needed to do moment to moment. So nervous! – right up until I got here and saw what she was facing every day with swelling at the tummy and an eyelid that won’t close and a half a face that’s still not moving these three weeks later – at which point all nervousness ceased and I got down to work.

It was a good lesson for me… and like all such lessons put me in my place, and reminded me that I myself am actually at the center of very few stories indeed.

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