The windows creaked against the whoosh of the wind inside my pretty, old church. I sat one pew from the back and greeted the pastor with a weak smile.
"I've been a little lost for a while," I confessed and watched him frown with concern. "But I'd like you to pray. For my dad. He's having an emergency heart procedure done now."
I nodded when he confirmed that it was happening as we read bulletins and listened to the prelude and told him Dad's name. He patted my hand in comfort and I watched the sun stream through the eastern windows and sparkle on the blue and yellow glass. I watched the lilies as they perched elegantly around the sanctuary and kept my thumb on the 'answer' button of my Blackberry throughout the service.
"He's going in now," Mom had said, her voice quivering, at 9:30AM.
"I'm going to church," I told her. "I'll pray and keep my phone on - call me when you know something."
And when Pastor was still talking about doubting Thomas at 10:25, I felt my hands tremble as they clutched my phone. Placing stents is common and not all that difficult (I've heard) - it should not have taken an hour. I had comforted myself that we'd be fine when I thought of the Smallest One and my heart ached. "Please don't take him," I asked God silently. "Not now. Not yet." And blessed Pastor for praying for Dad first when it was time for concerns of the congregation.
I left my phone on the pew when we approached the altar for communion. I needed it - the sense of renewal, connection, tradition, comfort. And that was when I missed the call.
Taste of wine lingering on my tongue, I scampered outside as I dialed my family. The wind blew hair around face and skirt around legs as exited the side door and heard Brother say that Dad was fine. I sat on the front steps made of stone, between two patches of happy daffodils, when he said one artery had closed completely once again. So he had, in fact, been having mild heart attacks for at least a couple of days.
"But they put a new stent above the old one," Brother said. "And said he'd take blood thinners for another day or two and then go back on the typical dose."
I nodded, grateful and overwhelmed and relieved. And I wept when Brother handed off the phone.
"Hi, Daddy," I said, hoping the wind would sweep away any quivers in my voice. "You're all fixed up now?"
"Yeah," he replied, voice sounding higher than normal - tired and fragile and beloved. "My artery was blocked again."
"I heard," I replied, wishing I could squeeze his hand. "But they fixed it."
"Yeah," he agreed. "I can't sit up for 3 hours," he parroted his instructions. "But I'm going to be fine."
"I think so," he said after a moment when I asked if the pain was gone. "I let them give me the sissy medicine - the stuff that relaxes me."
"Good," I praised, not even rolling my eyes at the drug identification. "We prayed for you at church. You were first."
"That's good," he said. "I'm just tired now. And I can't sit up for 3 hours. But I'm going to be fine." After agreeing that we were both glad he was OK and loved each other a lot, we bid farewell and I sobbed when hearing him ask who wanted to talk next. Because that happens every time - short calls or long, when I'm at work or home or abroad. He never hangs up without making sure there's not someone else waiting their turn. And it's the little things that sometimes capture my emotional balance.
"Do you want me to come home?" I asked Brother when I heard his voice.
"You can," he said, "but I got this." And so, after talking with Mom a bit later, I've decided that they're OK without me for now. Dad has "a few days" to stay at the hospital - nobody's able to tell me what they're planning to monitor, but everyone sounds relieved. So Dad will rest - no ventilator, just rest - and Mom will fuss and make phone calls and Brother will - hopefully - be the good child who helps and solves problems and calls doctors mediocre if need be.
But we're fine.