I woke to a phone call this morning. This time, my dad was calling to ask Bobby (my brother) to bring something to the hospital when he came, and to let us know that Billy would be moving to a new room today.
Billy has been in the medical ICU since Wednesday afternoon. Today, he woud be moved to the MICU/PICU (“meekoo peekoo” as Bobby called it).
Around noon, my mom, Bobby and I stood in Billy’s room as the nurse prepared for the move. Billy was sleeping. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow, we started swapping stories of some of the dumb stuff we did as kids…
Our neighborhood was really hilly, and we had gone for a family bike ride. Most of us had been on bikes. Bobby, on the other hand, was too small for a bike, so he had ridden his little red tricycle. (As my mom told the story, Bobby had the kind of face that tells you he didn’t remember this one at all. That face makes me laugh.) During the ride, someone had decided to head up Glenisle. The only way back home was down hill—and most of those hills were fairly steep. I guess we weren’t thinking ahead. Eventually, we reached the end of the street and rounded the corner, starting our descent down Crestview (a big hill). All of a sudden, Bobby’s little “trike” started going faster than his little legs could handle. And my mom had panicked. We all laughed as my mom relayed the story of Bobby’s terror. He couldn’t stop his trike. Eventually, the front wheel of his trike collided with the curb on the sidewalk, and he went flying. The story made us laugh; it was a good one to remember.
There were others—of Danny flying over the handlebars of his bike, or of Danny using a bike that Chris had told him not to use, and the front wheel falling off. All of the stories brought laughter. The nurse even chimed in with a story of his own. In college, he and his fraternity brothers had decided to ride in the trash cans with wheels on the bottom. The trash cans moved so fast down the hill, they got written up for speeding. The police clocked them going 65mph!
Sometime during the telling of the stories, Billy woke up. He just sat and listened, and smiled. It’s good to see that smile.
All of this made me start thinking about story-telling. As the McCotter/Bohren kids have gotten older, we’ve started telling stories of the crazy things we did as kids—things my parents never knew about. And usually, we end up laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. I’m hoping for some story-telling sessions with Billy sometime.
Some days in the hospital, it feels like a bad dream that won’t end. Other days, there’s not much that changes. Today, other than Billy’s move to a new room, not much changed.
During the slower times, we (Billy’s family and friends) get to spend time with each other. I’m meeting people I’ve heard Billy talk about but have never met—or seeing some of his friends that I haven’t seen for a long time. Today, I got to meet Nate's mom (Suzanne) and two sisters (Becca and Robyn). Rob has been here, as well as Kelsey, and Melissa and Tyler. It’s fun to hang out with people who have meant so much to Billy. And as we hang out, we share stories. Even though Billy is the patient, I think we’re all in need of healing in some way, and story-sharing is another form of medicine that hospitals can’t provide.