Yesterday, I got a call from a police officer. He didn't identify himself as such immediately. He mentioned that he had gotten my phone number from my friend Phil Rowe, who is a fellow filmmaker. He staggered through his first few sentences while I waited for him to ask me for a favor. Perhaps he needed an editor, a 3D animator, or someone to do some web video thing. This is what I have grown to expect from conversations that start with "I got your number from..." This would have been great. I could use the extra cash these days. I'm saving up for something big. Actually, anything other than what followed his awkward introduction would have been great: "Are you related to Phil?"
I wasn't prepared to answer that question. Something inside of me said that the answer he wanted to hear was "yes," but my hesitation caused him to inform me that he was a police officer and that my friend had been involved in a car accident. The gravity of this situation gave me the sudden urge to tell the truth. I was not related. But I gave him information on how to find a relative (his daughter). After that, I couldn't get any information out of him, other than the fact that he was in Boulder. I offered to help in any way that I could and let him know that I was close, if they needed anything. He simply told me that he had my information and would have the hospital get back to me if there was any news.
And with that, he left me hanging. I contacted Carl, who is also very close to Phil, and told him what had happened. He called the emergency room. They told him Phil was discharged. What a relief! Seemed like our friend was involved in a minor accident and walked right out the door! I spent the next four hours in this blissful and ignorant state of mind.
We got home that night and were somewhat concerned that we still could not get in touch with Phil. I called the emergency room back, telling them that I was just confirming that he had been discharged and that I was trying to get more information about what had happened.
"Rowe? No. He was not discharged. I'm sorry someone told you that. He is in surgery right now- in Intensive Care. His condition is listed as critical." My stomach dropped as my world got slightly smaller and blurred. How could this be? How could they mistakenly list someone in critical condition as "discharged," which is the opposite of said state?
I couldn't think to ask any more questions. I poked and prodded as much as I could, but the person with whom I was speaking admitted that she did not know any details. I hung up and told Carl the news.
We quickly made phone calls to see if any of our other friends had any information, but it was the first anyone else had heard about the situation. Not knowing the details was killing us, so we called back and asked to be transferred to someone who knew what was going on.
The story pieces came together: Phil had experienced a massive heart attack while driving and ran his car into a tree. He was undergoing heart surgery that was expected to last six hours.
Carl and I drove to the hospital. We knew that we could not see Phil while he was in surgery, but we wanted to try to get as much information as we possibly could and to have a "presence" there. Luckily, Carl is a much better liar than I am and when asked what his relation to Phil was, he quickly and simply answered: "adopted son."
"I'm with him," I grinned, stupidly. It worked. We are now officially family, which made things easier until his daughter arrived today. We were given the whole story. Turned out our dear friend needed a one inch tear in his heart fixed as well as a triple bypass surgery.
"It's a miracle he's alive," the surgeon informed us. "That's interesting," I replied. "Yesterday I got a fortune cookie that said 'You will soon bear witness to a miracle.'"
She showed me the goosebumps on her arm.
After hearing the details and bonding a bit, we all agreed that Phil was quite fortunate, and had a good, strong heart.
The next day, we visited our groggy friend. We quickly informed him of his adoption of Carl, lest we be kicked out of the recovery room. He smiled and nodded at the news, clearly glad to have a son. Incidentally, his daughter is happy to have a brother.
I had been working on a costume for Halloween. I was going to go as the indestructible cheerleader from "Heroes." I had studied her costume and made it from scratch. I was prepared to singe it and put some fake blood on it to make it look like her famous train wreck adventure. I never got the chance to do this. I also never made it to the party I was supposed to attend.
Not wanting the costume to go to waste, I decided to give it a purpose. I post a picture here. Cheers for Phil! I wish him a speedy R-E-C-O-V-E-R-Y!!!
update: this post was delayed in publishing. I've had very little free time. For a couple of weeks, recovery was difficult for our friend. I am happy to report, however, that, as of 11/30, he should REALLY be discharged in just a few short days! This past month has been... interesting. I've exchanged glances and short words with so many different people at the hospital. We all share a bond. It's a bond that we should, perhaps, remember to carry with us beyond the doors of the hospital. No matter what happens in between, we are all bound to birth and death. Hospitals remind us of this humanness and the emotions I have encountered have run the gamut of human capacity- from the frazzled woman I witnessed yelling about the "incompetence" of the hospital to Carl, who along with the nurses and doctors make up the most amazingly patient and helpful people on the Earth. With this, I am filled with a renewed desire to experience life to its fullest. And also to never smoke a cigarette again in my life...