DS2 explained what the doctors had found. His voice was shaking to the point that I couldn’t understand what he was saying. It might have been more merciful if I hadn’t. “A what?” I asked.
“An omphalocele,” he said. “The baby’s liver and intestines are in a sac on the outside of its body. The doctors say it can be fixed.”
He didn’t sound convinced.
Especially then, Google was my friend and I looked up everything I could on the condition. I prayed my DIL didn’t do the same. The outlook had the possibility of being bleak. A lot of the sites were encouraging but some of the pictures were graphic. There were words like “necrotic intestines” and “multiple surgeries”.
DIL was extra careful. A few weeks later, they were warned the baby might be premature. To keep her (we knew by now the baby was a girl) from coming too early to have a good chance of survival, DIL was hospitalized and a cervical cerclage was performed. Everything was being done to ensure a healthy baby with a minimum of problems.
The time was marching on out in California, too. I received two very special graduation invitations. Of course, there was no question. I would go. Forget it that I didn’t have the money. I had plastic. I didn’t realize it would take me a couple of years to catch back up where I was at the moment but that didn’t matter. My youngest was graduating from college with a double major. What she was going to do with International Communication was beyond me but Spanish, I could understand. Not understand understand but I could see where it could be of benefit. Her current interest also had a double major—Communications and Spanish. If they wanted, they could converse in a language mostly unfamiliar to me and I would have no idea what they were saying.
When I started making plans for the trip, my sister in the Great Northwest decided she would go to the graduation, too. Now THAT was really special! We could meet in San Francisco and go from there together. What fun! I felt kind of guilty leaving DS2 and my DIL with their problem pregnancy but this was important.
I made my reservations and she and I coordinated our schedules so we would arrive at the airport at essentially the same time. We collaborated on the hotel where we would stay. After we confirmed dates, I was reading that the place had been renovated in the early 80s. Oh, no! We were going to be in Roach Heaven or something equally as horrible.
Shopping was the next thing in order. I bought several new outfits along with several pairs of shoes. I might be a Hick from the Hills but I wasn’t going to embarrass my DD. Not any more than I could help, that is. Mothers have the talent of embarrassing their young by merely breathing sometimes. Sometimes it’s fun but this wasn’t that kind of time.
June came and the day when I was to set out. I’d packed my largest suitcase with everything I could think of I might need down to computer speakers. The bag came in at just short of a ton but this was prior to weight limits, charging for overweight bags—or even just charging for bags, period.
I heaved the suitcase into the trunk of the car with a resounding grunt and set out for the airport. Parking in the extended stay lot, I caught the shuttle to the terminal. It took some muscling to get the suitcase into the shuttle while the driver sat and watched.
Curbside check-in was the easiest way to go. I felt rather worldly when I tipped the agent who tagged my bag and hefted it onto the cart. Security was a breeze. I was waved on through with hardly a second glance. I settled into the waiting area until the boarding announcement came. My laptop was in its bag beside me but there was no way for me to get on the Internet so I left it where it was.
By this time, I’d bought a digital camera. The Sony Mavica had interested me but it was so big and bulky. It was, for all intents and purposes, a disk drive with a camera attached so I’d waited until something more compact and reasonably priced came along. What I’d decided was worth my while was a Nikon Coolpix 800. I’d even invested in a 32 MB Smartcard. I was set.
It seemed to take forever for the announcement to come over the PA that my flight was boarding. I lined up with the rest of the passengers. Whenever I’m in a long queue like that, I always feel like I’m part of a herd. Of what? Maybe cattle.
The flights were unremarkable. I had to change planes but that was no problem. I was anxious to get to San Francisco and see my sister. The last time we’d been together was in the fall of 1997. It had been more than three and a half years and quite a few pounds for me.
My flight arrived before hers. We had made plans to meet in the baggage area so I sat down to wait once I’d claimed my storage unit on wheels.
A small, unassuming man came along and set his bag down a few feet away from me and walked off. I thought it was kind of strange but I ignored it. I wasn’t going to go over and try to claim it. This was pre-911 so the only thing that was running through my mind was that maybe he was a drug runner or a spy. But which?