Surgery day arrived bright and early and exceptionally sunny on July 7, 1999.
I remember feeling so guilty; Andrew was so happy. He was thrilled to be eating a popsicle for breakfast. He had been freely telling people, "The doctor is going to cut my head and fix my skull," having no way to comprehend what was really at stake and what was to come. How can you prepare a 4 year old for the pain without scaring him?
We were thankful to be at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where we not only had the best doctors but a whole staff that made patients and families their specialty. Andrew would be given meds while with us so that he wouldn't remember being separated from us, but also would not be put under until we were gone.
And then we waited.
We were in a room with other parents and about every hour we would be visited by a nurse whose only job was to check in at each operating room, receive an update on the child, and then report back to the waiting room. We lived for those updates. One-by-one, the other parents would leave to be reunited with their child in recovery.
Seven and a half long hours later we were given the word that his surgery was over and we would be able to see him soon.
Soon was an hour later.
Surgery was over but our journey of healing was just beginning.