I am not, as it turns out, in New York. I am preparing to head back down to the hospital.
Nine years ago, the week before my flight to America, my mother was diagnosed with kidney failure. Those of you who know me from way back might remember seeing her in a wheelchair when she was seeing me off. She and my dad had been supposed to accompany me in my first week before college; there was no way to do that, obviously, when she was so weak.
Last night, 6 hours before another flight to America, I drove home at midnight from a corporate function to an empty house - and a very puzzled, sad family dog. So after playing with Rerun for a bit, I went to call my mother. Turned out the call had come: a transplant was available, and my parents were at the hospital. And then some agonising back and forth while my mother underdid the tests - her blood pressure was really high, and there was some fear that she might not be allowed to have the op.
Fortunately, the doctor cleared her. So Saturday morning was spent with her before she underwent the transplant: I gave her a little Cairn terrier fridge magnet that I had bought for her on impulse the day before, and the relatives all came to wish her the best. She asked me to go and help her buy a hair brush, and I teased her about her vanity.
The doctor was late, due to an emergency. I spent the extra hour pacing about the room: worried that this chance might slip out of her grasp. Then the nurse came with the oxygen machine: such a relief.
She went into the operating theatre at 3.45pm. She came out at 10.30pm.
When she was wheeled out after that long, excruciating operation (there had been some blood loss, it turns out, so it took twice as long), she was completely groggy, mostly out of it. But she held her hand out for my dad to hold, and I ran alongside the stretcher. And just before they wheeled her into the high dependency ward - where, to protect her body, we wouldn't be allowed to go in to see her for the next two weeks, only to view her through the glass - I bent over and kissed her hand.
For nine years my mother hasn't had more than a sip of anything to drink. Her kidneys just wouldn't allow it. When she comes out of the hospital, I'm getting her an old favourite: a nice baby coconut.