Surgery day. Alarm clock, alarm on cell phone, wake-up call all set, all sounded. Didn't want to risk sleeping through it. First one up? Ethan. Dancing. Singing. Smiling. Me trying to imagine how I might conjure this morning energy during the school year.
Off to the surgery center. We check in. "Sorry, no children under 12 allowed IN THE BUILDING" she says, looking at Thomas, who's big, but no way can pass for 12. Me: "IN THE BUILDING?" Her: "IN THE BUILDING, MOTHER FUCKER." We both drew knives. People in the waiting area began to snap their fingers in unison, tip-toeing like dancing cats all around us, waiting for a fight. Long story short, we celebrated our differences and parted the closest of friends. She's moving in with us next week.
I was already emotionally prepared to leave Ethan and Sandi at the building, but I hadn't expected to be kicked out before I even got in. So a quick but intense hug for Ethan, who thank god hugged me back. A quick "I love you. I'm so proud of you." and we were gone. Driving back to the hotel in the dark. Down Rodeo Drive.
Looking for a way to push back the tears I tried to explain to Thomas the cultural significance of Rodeo Drive and how it's considered Mecca to those who shop. His words: "This is stupid. The mannequins all look the same. They're stupid. I don't like this place." That's my boy.
Back at the hotel, enjoying our free breakfast (Thomas had 4 biscuits and a waffle - carb loader), Sandi calls to let us know that they wheeled Ethan back. She says he was making jokes and laughing, still really excited -- much more so than with the atresia surgery. I can understand why, too. I mean he can't really appreciate his hearing the way Sandi and I can, but he knows that kids have treated him differently because of the way his ear looks. As recently as a week ago in summer camp, he was upset because kids wouldn't play with him because of his ear. My immediate reaction when he tells me such stuff is anger at how shallow people are, but then I realize I'm talking about kids and, no matter how long ago it may have been, I do remember being one of those. I remember the first time I met someone with a cleft palate. The first time I met someone who was mildly retarded. The first time I met someone who was blind. I'm sure I wasn't the model of whatever you'd call it when someone accepts all others without question. I'm sure I stared. So I don't blame others.
8:00 a.m. and we have our first update: Ethan is asleep. Three deep breaths and he was out. Dr. Lewin is now studying his ear, trying to craft the new one to match the existing one. She has not made an incision yet. That will come some time during the next 8 to 10 hours. Christ on a freakin' bike, this is gonna be a long day.
Thomas is ... subdued. He misses Ethan. I know, buddy. We all do. Let's get the car and go to the beach. Santa Monica Pier, just like yesterday, but this time let's go in the ocean. Wash it all away. Breath the air. Celebrate how random and beautiful it all is.
"Swim out past the breakers, watch the world die." -- Art Alexakis