While David had been in the hospital, our friendship grew even stronger. But the “love” part of this love story was not yet getting off the ground. At one point, that part came to a standstill. In fact, I had a couple of dates with a guy I had met at Georgia Tech during that time and after David went back home. He was a nice guy, working on his PhD in Aerospace Engineering. We had a class together, and he lived just down the hall from me. But a Michigan Lutheran and an Alabama Southern Baptist had quite a few differences, so nothing really ever came of it. Besides, my heart was still taken by that guy at Georgia Baptist Hospital, despite my efforts to put that all behind me.
As I mentioned, I did go to visit David at his parents’ house during Thanksgiving break. As I was about to leave, he asked me whether I thought he should go ahead with an amputation. I said yes.
Confession: my motives were not entirely pure. I knew that the Ilizarov procedure – even if successful – would lead to at least two more years of limbo for David, and I didn’t think things would ever move forward between us while that was going on. However, that wasn’t the only reason it was the better choice, and I believe David had all but made up his mind already when he asked me my opinion.
David made the wise, difficult, brave choice. The surgery was scheduled for December 13, 1996 – Friday the 13th. This picture from yesterday’s post was taken the day before.
As soon as my classes were over that day, I went straight to the hospital. David had already been taken back for surgery so I waited with his parents. Guess who else was there…. Russ. And Other Girl.
By that time, Other Girl (her name is Jennifer, and she’s a wonderful person) was no longer a concern of mine. While Russ will always be one of my favorite people, he’s not the love of my life. My heart belonged to David. Even if he wasn’t yet sure he wanted it.
David’s parents returned to Alabama as soon as the doctor told us everything had gone well. (That is still incredibly bizarre to me, but you’d have to know their family dynamics to begin to understand it.) Russ, Jennifer, and I waited until he was out of recovery and brought back to his room. After a short time, Russ and Jennifer left, too, so I was the only one with him that first evening right after the surgery. The anesthesia made him pretty sick, so I held the bowl and wiped his brow. It was surreal seeing him without a foot, even all tightly bandaged. His right leg now ended just a few inches below his knee.
Although it’s not something he ever would have chosen, David would be the first to tell you it was one of the best things to happen to him because of everything that came into his life because of it. But first, he needed to heal. A few days later, he went home to begin that process and learn how to function in this new life.
Over the next couple of months, we talked on the phone periodically. I finished up my first term, went home for Christmas, and then returned to Atlanta in January. David was healing up while living with his parents in Alabama, in the process of getting his first prosthesis, and building up the strength to learn to walk again.
Then February came.