February 6th, 2012— It took my mother nearly a month of convincing that her headaches, restlessness, and throwing up were not healthy. The week prior to her going to the hospital, she would lie in bed with the lights off. No television, no computer, and just lay there. My mom has always been the type to internalize her suffering and never speak outwardly about it; I suppose that’s where I got it from. After a week of constant prodding and pushing my dad finally convinced my mother to go to the ER. To which she said, “If I don’t feel better by Monday, I’ll go.” When Monday came around we found out she had a three-inch mass on frontal lobe. My heart sank as my dad told me they were admitting her into the hospital.
3 pm. February 8th, 2012— My family always entered the hospital with hands deep inside our pockets. I guess mostly we were trying to shield our fingers from the cold Wintery air. I took them out only once I had wiped my feet clean of the snow pile I had to step through to get to the front door from the parking lot. But I treated it like hiding your thumbs whenever you walk or drive by a graveyard. It was a superstition that felt so real like if I didn’t do it the worst would happen.
3pm. February 10th, 2012— I had to walk quickly to her room. I didn’t lollygag. And I didn’t look around at the hospital, even if it was under construction. I know there would be time for that later but right now, my mom needed me, if only for the fact that I was there to support her. My brothers and father would be leagues ahead of me for the first few walks in, but after I realized this. I walked neck and neck with them. Jogging if I had to. I couldn’t bear to have my dad give me the impatient look while holding the elevator for me again, but more importantly I just wanted to be there for my mother.
February 11th, 2012— I went to see her every chance you got. My two older brothers would see her two to three times a day. While Mikael and I would see her after he got out of school, until eight or nine o’clock. Tuesdays I had class from six to nine o’ clock. I felt terrible that I was even there. It was her suggestion that I go, so I went reluctantly. But every time I was there I was either doing homework, or plugged into my computer listening to music. Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue was on constant repeat. “Blue in Green” spoke to me like never before. I thought by listening to slow, sad music it would cheer me up… Of course it never did, but it kept me from breaking down.
11 pm. February 11th ,2012— Pray. I’m not a religious person at all. In fact I used to loathe God and for the five years prior to my mother’s tumor, I was sure that I would never speak to him ever again. I was so bitter about my mental health situation, that I didn’t know what else to say to him other than “go to Hell,” or “die.” But I remember lying in my bed looking at the white ceiling my mother and I had forgotten, or didn’t bother, to paint. I remember tears welling in my eyes as I started my conversation with God, “Don’t you dare let my mother die.”
12 pm February 12th, 2012— We didn’t sit in the waiting room for the entirety of the surgery. We went out to eat to get our minds off the worst that could happen. Went to Pi’s Chinese Restaurant, ordered the buffet. I could only consume one plate. So instead of eating, I sat there enjoying my brothers’ company. And didn’t talk about the surgery. We talked about each other. Talked about everything going on with each other’s lives. Almost like our mother’s surgery wasn’t taking place. I knew it was in the forefront of everyone’s mind that we all wanted to say something about it, but didn’t have the tenacity to bring it up.
2 pm. February 12th, 2012— We went back to the waiting room. We smiled. I was trying so hard to be the strong for my father, niece and nephew. I hoped they can’t see the pain behind my transparent teeth. Hoped they can’t read my thoughts. I prayed again, only this time nicer than before. Saying I’ll do anything to keep her here. Did homework. Prayed again. Didn’t say much to the people around me, especially not my family. They’re going through the same thing. I felt butterflies with the weight of elephants in my throat anyway. So whatever I wanted to say it probably wouldn’t come out right anyway. Prayed once more.
3 pm February 12th, 2012— Watched a family get bad news about a surgery. Watched as the doctor tells the woman calmly, though I couldn’t hear any of the words I knew what had happened. Her hands went around her mouth. I watched her body language change from on edge, to being defeated. I felt the gravity of the situation, as I watched the family as they cry packing their things to leave, I was feeling completely on edge.
5 pm February 12th, 2012— Hold your breath when the Doctor comes out to give you the news about the surgery. Don’t say a word. I watched and waited as the doctor calmly told my dad how it had gone. My dad gives us the thumbs up then explains that we have to go to another waiting room. I packed my things; I guess I was moving too slowly, because my dad yelled at me to hurry up. But I smiled. She had made it. We had made it.
7 pm February 12th, 2012— Wait for your mother to wake up. See the incision. Have your gut flip multiple times. Look on as the nurse ‘quizzes’ your mom. Watch as mom barely remembers her name or the month we’re in. But I felt reassured when she smiles at me that she at least knows who I am.
11 pm February 12th, 2012— Went home to look up at the same white ceiling and didn’t think of anything remotely close to God. I was still smiling about the fact that my mom was still with us.
8 pm February 15th, 2012— When my mother came home from the hospital with the walker she needs to keep her balance for a while, I had the younger kids go up to my room almost immediately. My four-year-old niece was scared by the fact that my mom’s face has swollen up. My ten year old nephew was too, but he’ll at least give mom a hug. My niece was upset and would not. My niece cried because her Grandma isn’t who she remembered, or at least doesn’t look like she remembered. While we were upstairs we played musical instruments. I had the kids sing songs. All in hopes of getting their minds off of their grandma’s appearance. When the children left the house I watched my mother put the hood of her coat over her face. I wanted to cry but I didn’t. I just told her it’s okay, and that I love her.
Thomas Dunn II