One thing Sean and I feared about moving overseas was what would happen if a loved one got sick or hurt or died while we were away.
Last Thursday, our nightmare started to unfold.
I noticed on Facebook that my brother posted something about his truck dying and a family member in the hospital.
I should say that I noticed this while I was in the teacher's office with two more classes to teach that day.
And the thing about being abroad is that it's not like I have this nifty phone that will connect me to my mother's cell. We keep in touch via carefully planned Skype chats (16 hours is quite the time difference) and Facebook emails.
Not exactly helpful in the midst of an emergency.
But what could I do? I fired off an urgent, inquisitive email to my brother and then had to get up, walk to the classroom, and pretend everything was okay and teach proper MLA citations as my stomach clenched in dread and fear.
I knew my dad had not been feeling well.
But when I finally got a hold of my brother and found out that my mother had driven him to the ER and they admitted him because the man had practically no blood left in his body I was floored.
He wasn't hurt or bleeding so how on earth did this happen?
As it turns out, the doctors didn't really have a concrete explanation. So they pumped him full of new blood and let him go. Over the two days he was in the hospital, I had been keeping in touch with my family and felt anxiety and confusion and generally a WTF attitude as words like Lymphoma and chemotherapy were being tossed around.
How does this happen?
It's amazing how suddenly and completely your life can change.
Fast forward 36 hours and my father was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and intubated and almost dead. There I was, once again in the teacher's office with classes lined up, getting a simple, three-word email from my brother that read: Come home now.
Let me tell you, I was fully prepared for my father to be dead either before I even left Taiwan or by the time we landed.
I barged into my friend Jamie's apartment without even knocking, sobbing and mumbling, and the woman's a freaking saint for following me around and helping me do really important things like finding a flight we could get on ASAP and entering our passport info and credit card info because by that time all I was good for was sobbing uncontrollably and and tearing our (wet) clothes from our drying rack and shoving them in our backpacks (let me tell you I was not thinking and did not pack appropriately for Washington in December).
And then it occurred to me that I live in Taiwan and teach at an international school, so while yes my students are fluent in English there are no subs who are so then poor Jamie (who is most definitely not a middle school teacher) was saddled with not only all of my classes for two weeks but our insane foster dog Bojangles too.
We raced to the airport in taxi and then I downed my Lorazapam and passed out for the 11 hour flight only to suddenly find myself back in America in the middle of this huge crisis.
Talk about shock.
If feels like a nightmare I'm still waiting to wake from. My dad is in Harrison Hospital getting constant blood transfusions and chemo and we're going to have to leave next weekend, in the middle of all this crap with nothing resolved, because I have to work and we decided to create this life, this really beautiful life, in Asia, 11 hours away by jet plane.
I guess this the price we (and our families) pay.
My father passed away on December 10, 2012 at Harrison Hospital in Bremerton, Washington. My entire family, Sean's family, and our good friends Jenn and Roger were there. It happened very suddenly and unexpectedly. We later learned he had a very aggressive type of T-cell lymphoma called Malignant Angiommunoplastic Lymphoma, which was complicated by the fact that he also had pure red cell aplaysia. So, fuck.