The turkey and the stuffing were diced into tidy brown blocks. They sat side-by-side, looking like bricks for a dainty but foolhardy construction project.
The mashed potatoes were scooped by hand like ice cream. Someone four floors below, in a basement kitchen, released the dull white lukewarm globe over a tray with a flourish of a tired wrist. There were stubby grey green beans and a short glass of milk with a paper lid to prevent sloshing.
Sitting on a small white paper plate was a messy triangle of apple pie.
An information card confirmed this meal complied with my doctor’s orders: Regular diet.
I sat up in bed as much as possible, draping the hose from my nasal cannula and the tube from my IV over my bed rails. It hurt to hold my fork because my IV, which was placed in the emergency room on the back of my left hand, had blown the day before and was replaced in my right wrist.
I turned on the TV, which was perched near the ceiling in a corner, hospital-style. They never think of neck-pain patients when they decorate hospital rooms, do they? I clicked the button on the unwieldy remote, which summoned the terse Yes? of overworked nurses or basic cable. Take your pick. My choices: Football. Football. Fishing. Singing. Bad movie.
A biography of his life was just starting.
There was little Mick as a schoolboy. Mick at university. Mick was a brilliant student. He loved the blues.
I ate the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing, the mashed potatoes and green beans. I dutifully drank the milk in the short glass. I considered the pie. Maybe I should save it? It would break up the monotony. I put it aside, for later.
My husband and Aidan, who was 16 months, were at home. They would come in the evening to visit me.
My parents were 250 miles away, visiting my grandmother.
Ryley kicked in my belly, eight weeks away from his due date.
A few days earlier, I needed a chest x-ray. The technicians carefully shielded my belly to protect him from radiation. He was an innocent passenger, never signing on for mama’s bout with bacterial pneumonia and recurrent severe asthma attacks. Despite all I had been through that week, he kept kicking and tumbling, reminding me he was there.
My lungs struggled directly above him. My heart raced from the medications. Steroids and antibiotics coursed through my veins and his.
That Thanksgiving was the first I experienced while pregnant. The days leading up to my lonely cubed turkey feast had been frightening. I could not breathe. I gasped and wheezed and coughed and worried my baby boy was hurting, too.
God, I loved him, my sweet mellow baby, the one I prayed daily would be happy, always happy.
Mick Jagger preened and pranced.
I’m entering this post in Scribbit’s November Write-Away. The theme is Grateful. Go check it out and enter, too!