My dad died when I was seven. My mom told me in the morning when I woke up that he’d been admitted to the hospital, and I couldn’t understand. The only thing I could say, through the waterfall of tears, was “How could you not wait until after breakfast?!” I was so distraught, and I couldn’t bring myself to accept this fact, that I just went right past it.
I have five brothers, and two sisters. All years and years older than I am, they’d all left the house by the time I was born, so I was left, at seven to pick up the pieces of my mothers broken heart.
I used to lay in bed with her and promise that I’d never leave, that I’d never get married, that I’d just stay forever.
I haven’t lived at home for nearly four years now, and I’ve never felt so guilty.
My brother moved in with mom after I moved out. I was eighteen, and I’d been dealing with her dementia for about two years, and I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. Between my own panic disorder, and anxiety, I wasn’t doing anything good for her.
I haven’t seen my mom in a little while and she’s been living in assisted care for about a year.
So, I logged onto facebook — I only even use it to check on family that lives far off, like my brothers who are still in Canada, while I’m living the American dream. Or nightmare, but that’s a story for another time.
"You should give your brother a call." was posted on my wall.
So I scrambled to the phone — I don’t have a long distance plan, but I don’t care, he’s my brother, and I know it’s got to be serious if my aunt is leaving a message like that.
"It’s about mom." he said, and I can hear this near fifty year old man start to tear up.
It’s gotta be bad if he’s already crying.
"Mom’s in the hospital, and they told me I should start calling the family."
My invincible mother, is laying in a hospital bed because of an infection, and they’re already talking about DNR’s.
I didn’t cry while I was on the phone, my brother was doing enough of that for both of us.
"You don’t know how good it is to hear your voice" he tells me, like I’ve been a ghost. “I haven’t talked to anyone in days. I don’t know what to do.” it’s all on his shoulders, so I talk through the options.
"Mom wouldn’t want to live like that." we both know the truth, we both know her views on it. We both hate admitting it.
There’s a moment of silence, and a sigh of relief. “I needed to hear that from someone. I’ve been so alone.” he admits, feeling like an executioner, readying his axe for the neck on the chopping block.
But his hands aren’t steady, because it’s our mother. It’s a choice that no one wants to make, and he feels guilty even thinking about it. “Am I selfish for wanting to ask them to revive her?” he begs me to say no without asking.
He could have called my other brother, talked to him, they grew up together. See, I was adopted, I’m not blood and yet I — the irresponsible twenty five year old, is the one with the answers. The one that makes he, the fifty year old man, feel better.
This fills me with a sick pride, knowing that my brother cares what I have to say….
"I want to, too. It’s mom." so we talk it out, decide on leaving it all up to God - mom’s always been a really devout Christian.
"Thank you." We figure out the best option, and somehow the conversation shifts.
Soon enough we’re laughing, talking about how mom is loved by everyone at the place, how people flock to her, and she sings. She doesn’t talk anymore, just sings — that’s the dementia setting in.
Everything is going great, we have a healthy conversation of what used to be, and what might be in the future.
“I love you." he said, that same shake coming back into his voice. "I needed to talk to you so badly. Thank you." he said, like I was doing him a favor.
“I love you too, bro." I can’t help choke a little on the words.
“I’ll let you go, but stay in touch.” he says, explaining how he’s going to get a calling card just so we can talk more often.
“I’d like that." I really would.
I held myself together really well through the phone call, didn’t shed a damn tear. But as soon as I hit end, the waterworks started. Tears burned my cheeks and I curled into the bed like it would save me from the pain. My heart was beating so fast I swore it was going to explode out of my chest. Everything suddenly hurt.
Took me a while, but I can breathe again.
Now, it’s just waiting game.
I’m twenty five, but I’m still a kid. I just want, in childish bewilderment, to believe my mother is a superhero, that she’ll pull through and prove she’s invincible. Defeat the bad guys and save the city - or maybe just my heart from breaking.
We all have to grow up some time, but for now, I’ll cuddle the teddy bear my Dad got me when I was three, and hope that wonder woman lives to see another day.