Mark’s surgery lasted until late in the night. I went back to my friend’s house and slept a few hours, and then took a Lyft back to the hospital. On the 15 minute drive, the Lyft driver was chatty. “What’s taking you to the hospital today?” he asked. “Well,” I said, “You are taking me to the hospital to see my husband for the first time after he’s had brain surgery. I’m not sure if I will be able to recognize him. I’m not sure what he’ll look like.” “Oh, okay,” he said, speaking carefully. “I hope everything is okay for your husband.” I remembered how early in my relationship with Mark, when I’d tell him something that was worrying me, he’d say “I hope it gets better.” After a few of those responses, I told him that this generic statement back agitated me. It then became a joke. I’d tell him something like, “I’m worried that Alma is depressed,” and he’d lightly say, “I hope it gets better!” I could see now that he had used this phrase because sometimes, when faced with something that is so far beyond our control, all you can do is hope for a good outcome.
Mark was recognizable. I’m not sure how you can remove part of someone’s skull, do some patch work to replace eroded bone, and then zip them back up to look pretty much the same, but they did. “The swelling and bruising will come,” the surgeon warned. But it never did. He looked like Mark, hooked up to a lot of equipment, with a stitched incision travelling over his head from ear to ear. Monitors beeped and urine output was checked and the ventilator helped him breath. Nurses and doctors moved quietly in and out all day long. A sign on the door warned visitors to put on the blue plastic gowns and gloves because Mark had a tiny bit of MRSA residing in his nose. He was asleep. I could sit there and hold his hand, and other than that, I had to wait to see how he would be when he woke up.