I don’t need my alarm to go off to wake me up. I have been nervously anticipating this morning. As I walk up the steps, Calyn is already getting dressed and I assume she didn’t need an alarm either. I get ready quickly dressing in comfortable clothes and kiss Nolan and Maura goodbye after tip-toeing into their dark rooms and finding my way to their beds. At this point, Al is up too and already has the coffee brewing. We won’t eat anything, we would never if Calyn can’t. “All set? Let’s get going,” I say and the three of us head to the car.
The ride starts quietly until Al says, “Day one of getting better, Cal. I’m excited.” I just want everything to go well and to stay strong for her, I think. Then we can focus on what’s next and I’ll be excited too, maybe. As we pull into Stamford Hospital’s parking lot, it is dark and seems deserted. She is the first of the day, I remember. We take a selfie as we have been documenting this experience thus far, saying someday we’ll look back and understand why this happened and see the good in it.
(One month ago, to this very day, I remember the phone call from my husband as we were celebrating my Dad’s 71st birthday. He was at a work event and Calyn was at her first Varsity basketball practice after being moved up from the JV team. “Coach Kelly called. You need to go get Calyn, she’s hurt.” I remember walking into the gym to see her trying to hold back the tears while saying she was fine. I could tell by the look on the coaches’ faces that this was not fine, and it only took a day or two to confirm she had torn her ACL.)
Entering the hospital, we continue to the third floor following our surgery plan and are greeted with warm smiles at the desk. In no time, Calyn is set up in a bed with her IV, and a few nurses and doctors come in to explain each step that will happen while I sign away. “Okay, mom, time to go,” says the nurse. “I’ll come out as soon as I can,” says the surgeon. She’ll do great.” I kiss Calyn and whisper. “You’ll be fine, you got this” and head back to the waiting room, my turn to hold back tears.
Al and I are the only ones in the waiting room. I open my book and try to read, but my mind keeps wandering. HGTV is playing. I wonder if the staff knows I can get lost in this channel. I’ll try that. In between alternating between watching television and reading my book, I pray and hope. Texts are coming in asking how it’s going. I wish I knew, I think.
After what seems like an eternity, the surgeon comes out. “She did great, as I knew she would,” she says with reassuring smile. “She’s not awake yet, but I can take you back if you like.” Of course we would like to. We walk anxiously to see her and she lays peacefully sleeping with a fully repaired knee. Yes, day one of getting better has begun.
Today is a year later, day 365 of getting better, and we are in a much different place. It’s been a year of hard work, disappointment, accomplishment, dedication, frustration, optimism, and perspective. Life, even at 16, doesn’t always go according to plan, and today we are celebrating the journey, a journey of getting not only better physically, but mentally too.