i take a breath. i take a sip of overpriced minibar wine. i could cry a little. instead i look out of the window and the view over the now night-lit city is magnificent again. it wasn't earlier today, everything was grey. german style. now it's darkness and twinkly lights.
the massage i had the day before was pure luxury according to the price, but it was there to help me relax. not that it really did help, but it felt nice. now i need another one to get rid of the pain in my left shoulder, the familiar pain that seems to be my achilles heel when i carry too much luggage. or when stuff happens. stuff like my dad almost dying.
there is a dummies guide to everything these days, except for this. a dummies guide on how to take care of a dad if he had major surgery and almost died. there is nothing that could have ever prepared me for it, with or without a book. i don't know what to do, how to hide my helplessness, and how to sleep when i come back to room alone in a foreign city that is grey.
but somehow i have managed. there is not guide book so there is no right or wrong. i want to buy him food, i think hospital food is horrible, and my dad likes good food. i go to the store and then i feel overwhelmed. what do you buy for someone who just had a huge surgery? i end up buying orange sticks covered in dark chocolate amongst other bananas and pudding. i know my dad likes them, so his first meal out of surgery is vanilla semolina pudding and two orange sticks covered in dark chocolate.
i tell him he looks like an outlaw and file his nails and put lotion on his face.
i buy him nice, comfy headphones so he can listen to his beloved operas.
i tell him stuff and am happy when i can make him laugh. the best words he says to me start with “when i get out of here...”
i have only my intuition as to what to do and say. somehow it seems to be the right thing.
every day when i return from my morning visit i go to a pasta bar where i eat a bowl and drink some white wine for lunch. too much white wine to be honest. i do nothing, but i am exhausted. i start to miss my life. not so much cape town itself, but something that is mine. it seems to be suspended for the time being. it's okay, i am not complaining, as long as my dad is getting better.
the view from my hotel room is even more spectacular at night. the opera is drenched in soft pink light. it was built under stalin; apparently he got something right. i can't get myself to go see something, it seems too much effort and the only nice piece of clothing i have with me is my sherlock holmes coat. at h&m i have found some very cheap, nice bikini bottoms in black but nothing that screams opera.
so i stay in and order room service. the schnitzel is phenomenal and somehow i manage to make peace with the german television. i sleep badly though and miss my bed.
what happened to the “date” with the doctor you ask? well, let me tell you that grey's anatomy is a big, fat lie. well, the only part that is true is that funny machine you use to blow balls into the air to train your lungs, but the rest is bullshit. all that flirting, the dating, the shagging in the on-call room, that getting married, that cheating on each other, phew, it is all make belief! because believe me when i tell you: a real surgeon does not have time for that. a real surgeon will manage to have a schnitzel with you at 10pm after a long day of work and then he will need an early night to be fit for surgery in the morning. i count myself lucky that the schnitzel was a really good one and that i got a ride home in a fancy surgeon's car.
but honestly i don't even care. all i care that i left a father today who was smiling, eating, and breathing on his own. the only sign that reminds of his ordeal is a brave heart scar, which i tell him daily is pretty cool – chicks dig scars!