Everything is good, but what a strange night last night was.
Got the call from Penn at around 5ish yesterday that my bed was ready, and after a great day of shopping for the baby, I took Otis for a walk in the rain, packed up the car, had my daily shot of whiskey, and headed over to the hospital.
At around 7pm we boarded the elevator in the Rhoads Pavilion to head up to my room. I noticed right away another couple on the elevator with us. They were dressed oddly for a rainy Philadelphia night–he wearing a bolo tie, she these giant rhinestone-trimmed eyeglasses that suggested Boca Raton or the South Shore of Long Island. And, they must have been big fans of Johnny Cash, the man in black, as they both looked like they were heading to a funeral. He carried a wooden case that I figured was for a trumpet, or maybe even an accordion. Were they a family act that traveled from hospital to hospital across the land to entertain bored patients? Was my night going to be filled with the musical stylings of Johnny Cash on the trumpet, or even worse, a night of chemo patients doing the polka?
Since Jacq is very large these days, we are used to people striking up conversation with us wherever we go. “When are you due…?” “What are you having…?” “I’ll bet my house that your baby has a giant nose…” This particular elevator ride was no different. The woman in the rhinestone glasses immediately chatted us up. She was in good spirits, friendly in a way that might make us city-folks a bit uncomfortable.
WARNING: THE STORY GETS PRETTY GRISLY HERE ON OUT. SO IF YOU ARE EXPECTING OR HAVE A WEAK STOMACH YOU MAY WANT TO STOP READING HERE AND SKIP TO THE ALTERNATE ENDING
Once the rhinestone-glassed woman realized that we too were on our way up to Rhoads 7, she felt the need to share with us (why, WE DO NOT KNOW!) that they were funeral directors, coming to the hospital to retrieve the fetus of a patient on our floor who had just miscarried. The box, it turns out, did not contain a musical instrument, but would be used to… well you know what it was for.
We were mortified. Not normally short on words, I didn’t know what to say. Jacqui, equally quick with a quip, managed to blurt out something like, “I am really glad you shared that with me.” The folks in black said nothing more, sauntered off the elevator, and disappeared down the hall to do their sad and grisly business.
I checked in with the nurse, got Jacqui into our room, and immediately retold our crazy story to the nurses and doctors at the front desk. They were mortified, and to their credit, did an incredible job protecting us and reassuring us (without violating HIPAA rules) for the rest of the night and into today. We were both very upset (obviously), and I told Jacqui that we should leave. We cried a little, and decided that it was best to stay on schedule, and within a few minutes we managed to crack a few jokes about the whole crazy situation. Within an hour, we realized that what had happened was so outrageous and bizarre, that we were laughing and back to focusing on the important matters at hand–delymphomatization and a healthy baby-to-be.
The nurses, who today were still enraged at what had transpired, have let hospital administrators know what went on (as I will as well), so that we are sure that this never happens again, and that the accordion playing, fetus gathering, funeral directors know that they are not welcomed in this hospital.
ALTERNATE ENDING: THE COUPLE IN BLACK WISHED US WELL, PLAYED A FEW POLKA TUNES, AND HEADED BACK ON THE ROAD TO WISH OTHER PREGNANT COUPLES ALL THE BEST.