The morning of surgery,Paul had a vicious headache and of course, had had nothing by mouth since midnight, which didn't help matters. But the headache, he admitted, kept his mind off what was coming.
When we first got to Hopkins and registered at o'dark thirty, we had some time to talk, just the two of us. His head hurt badly, so I stayed mostly quiet, but I did ask him, "When they take you back to meet with the doctor and anesthesiologist, who do you want back there? Your brothers and me? Just me? Me and the boys?"
"Just you and the kids," he said without hesitating. For a split second, I felt bad for his brothers who hadn't seen him since the day before. I thought it might be good for them to see him again before he "went under the knife" since they probably wouldn't see him alert the rest of the day.
But he was forthright. Decisive. I respected that because I know the need for privacy and protection of my priorities when I'm the patient. You need an advocate, a representative, a trusted caregiver. "Immediate family" after you have children puts them before your family of origin.
Out in the waiting room, we were beyond blessed to have all of Paul's brothers, a sister-in-law, later two nephews show up to support us. I was at complete peace.
Our youngest son Joel (then a month shy of turning 14) had chosen to go to school that day. He wanted to "not have to think about it as much," he said. Wise call. Our daughter was in Florida. She was in constant communication by text. We felt her presence and prayers.
My older sons and a daughter-in-law went back with me. We kept our voices low because of Paul's headache. The boys each prayed over their dad, which --I gotta say--choked me up. Such godly young men of strong character. Truly a reward after years and years of parenting in the trenches.
At one point the kids were talking among themselves, and Paul took the time to motion me close. He looked straight at me, holding my hand.
"Two things I want you and Joel to remember if ...things don't go...the way you hope:
(He held up a finger.)
God is good .
(Then he held up a second.)
And don't be bitter."