On Sunday William the Conqueror had his central line replaced, which lead to a week of ‘hurry up and wait’. We hurried and hurried to get into surgery and suddenly William was taken from me and I was left in the ICU waiting room.
It was absolutely full to the gills; families in their Sunday best and their pajamas filled nearly every seat. I finally found a vacant one and settled in. The family surrounding me was from 30 minutes away; the sister had a blood clot in her brain and needed emergency surgery. This was one that had bumped us to later in the day; seeing the faces and realizing the circumstances felt like a relief and return to reality.
The sister and I chatted in between her caring for the others around her. Her adult brother brought a computer to play video games and she offered him some chips. At one bite he wrinkled his nose and with a forced smile he said, “These must be good for you.”
As more visitors came I scooted into the hallway and waited next to a man in a leather jacket and chaps. He was weather-worn and clearly a Harley rider. Two bikers came off the elevator shortly afterward and glanced about; “He’s over here!” I pointed. From what I could discern their friend from Fayetteville had a significant wreck and an artery was in danger. Honestly, I couldn’t make about more than a few sentences. His mumbled sentences would put any Nascar commentator to shame. I looked around to see a flood of leather chaps, beards, braids and black boots storm the hallway and waiting area. The cavalry had arrived.
I scanned across the televisions and mostly saw football when I suddenly heard a familiar and unmistakable voice. Dolly Parton. “Speaking of drawers, hang on to yours! Taa daa!”
Steel Magnolias was playing.
Now, Steel Magnolias is a southern woman classic but it is known for the extremely sad sequence in which Shelby dies after complication from a kidney transplant.
A gentle hush came over the busy and loud waiting room as M’Lynn rushed down hospital hallways, sat next to a bed and carefully tended to Shelby in the hopes that her motherly care would somehow revive her.
The beeps of the pumps, even the 80s style, were very familiar. “What if she wakes up for two minutes and I’m not here?” is a question we understand. I realized I hadn’t eaten a ‘real dinner’ in several days.
I watched the ‘tough scenes’ with a new perspective.
My heart’s senses were completely heightened. Tears where ready to escape my eyes when I realized the waiting room was pin-drop silent. No one had spoken for over six minutes.
I looked at the clock and realized the doctors would come to get me at any minute. I hoped I could get just a few more moments. Tragedy and laughter are often intertwined; nothing heals the heart like laughter because it lets the heart know surviving is possible.This emotional catharsis was very needed to counteract the exhaustion and emotions I’d been fighting all month.
I HAD to see the funeral scene.
Afterward I felt MUCH better. As M’Lynn says, “Life goes on.”
In that moment everyone began to speak again and I realized how silent it had been. In that moment I very, very badly wished the Duck Dynasty Harley Commander had leaned over to me and said, “I just love Dolly, don’t you?”
Families of all kinds were in that waiting room. We needed to laugh. We needed to know we aren’t alone. Even Steel Magnolias need the Biker Gang from time to time.
You haven’t lived until you watch a classic 80s chick flick with a gang of leather-wearing bikers.
May we all have our Steel Magnolias and a gang of those who kick butt and take over the road when we need it.