My mom is in the hospital right now. She has stones in her gallbladder and liver. She woke up in the middle of a few nights ago in pain a million times worse than childbirth, she told me. Now she’s in a hospital bed with enough drugs that she doesn’t feel anything. Enough drugs that she has trouble speaking and forgets to breathe. She’s hooked up on oxygen, too.
It’s hard to deal with this medical stress, however minor (I tell myself), from 3,000 miles away. We communicate every few hours through phone calls and texts, mediated by my younger brother because she can’t read or type. I feel for him, 15 years old, spending one of his few free summer weeks sitting in a hospital beside my drugged up mom. On my end of the phone I chirp away enthusiastically, reassuring her through drug-induced pauses.
When I was my brother’s age, our mom had cancer. I dealt with it by pretending everything was fine, that cancer wasn’t a big deal, that everything would be okay. ‘You don’t want me to go to Homecoming?!’ I asked, incredulous. ‘I’ll be back tomorrow!’
Everything ended up being okay, due in no part to my magical thinking. Now poor mom’s back in the hospital and I’m spending yet another Friday asking where the party’s at.