It was a Friday afternoon. I was at the bar of the Cheesecake Factory at Quakerbridge Mall in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. I was enjoying quiet conversation with a woman next to me, while in front of me was a diet Coke big enough to wash in and a ‘lunch’ salad that could feed three. I’d put in some extra hours earlier in the week, so I luxuriated in a long, Friday lunch. The weekend wasn’t far away.
About three hundred miles to the northeast, my sister was being prepped for brain surgery. She was in a Boston hospital. Earlier in the week, Leslie woke up in the middle of the night with what she thought were signs of a stroke. She called for an ambulance and went to the local hospital, where scans showed a golf ball sized ‘mass’ in the left side of her brain. Leslie was told it appeared to be a meningioma, probably benign. The hospital isn’t equipped to do brain surgery. She was transferred to Brigham & Women’s Hospital (home of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute) where the surgery was done. It took about six hours.
After work, I was alone in the house. My wife and daughter were out with friends. I spent the night on the sofa, web surfing and watching TV. My sister was on an operating table, a surgeon poking around in her brain. Leslie’s immediate family waited out the surgery at the hospital.
Leslie got through the surgery. As far as we know, all of the tumor was removed. The initial pathology report is that the tumor was benign. She returned home Sunday evening. Leslie still has some of the stroke like symptoms (weakness on her right side), but she’s told they should improve over time.
During the weekend, the impending arrival of hurricane Sandy dominated the news, and it dominated my days. A back up sump pump was installed in the basement. Shopping, cooking, laundry, ironing and generally enjoying electricity filled the day. Moving and removing various stuff in the back yard to prevent them from becoming wind blown projectiles. With good news about Leslie, my focus was on my family and our house, and the many days without electricity that I expected.
I went to church Sunday morning. I go to the Church of the Sacred Heart in Trenton. Pulling into the parking lot (just a little bit late, as usual), I saw a man sitting on a back door step, leaning against the doorway. He wore a dark jacket, a hood pulled across his face. He didn’t move. I hoped he was sleeping. While I worried about my house, it looked like he didn’t have a home.
It never ceases to amaze me, that while we all share the same space on Earth at the same time, we might as well be living in different universes.