I slowly open my eyes, groggy from the night before—my friend had brought over some hash-banana-bread. But, between the three of us we’d only managed to finished off half.
I wander around the house in my underwear, waiting to wake up. I pet my kittens and put away a few bags of groceries that my mother left out. It occurs to me that it’s not like her to do that, but before I can think twice about it my sister shows up to tell me something’s wrong. Our mother’s in the hospital—she says ‘symptoms of a heart attack.’
The Emergency Room extends into the waiting room where our emergency waits for a bed. There’s one television with fifteen people uncomfortably looking through the screen in between glances at one another. A drunk guy in a wheelchair sings Ozzy Ozborn at the top of his lungs until a nurse wheels him away. My mom sits calmly beside me, telling me she’ll be ok. I know her health well enough to remain sceptical.
After a few hours she’s given a bed and hooked up to an ECG—another screen to stare through. The room we’re in is divided by curtains to give some privacy to the handful of people and their guests. It’s surprisingly quiet—no screams of pain or doctors desperately trying to save people’s lives—just an opium head, giggling uncontrollably as an embarrassed relative sits at his side. ‘Curtains only do so much’ I think to myself, pacing our side of the curtains.
Tests are ordered. Doctors introduce themselves with limp handshakes and fleeting eye contact. My sister and my mother make small talk—perfectly relaxed. The tests come back inconclusive—they don’t know what’s wrong, which means we don’t need to stay. We go home. I call into work and use a vacation day so I can be with my mom and make sure she’s alright. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself—‘being with her will make her alright.’
I struggle with what I’m supposed to be feeling. I don’t cry, this was overdue—my mother’s obese and that lifestyle only has one outcome. I’ve fought with her for years about it, but the last thing I want is to say ‘I told you so.’ Instead, what I feel is hope. I hope that she’ll be ok; that I’ll be ok without her.
She recovers fully in just a couple of days from the symptoms the doctors couldn’t diagnose. She says ‘it was a wake up call about her health.’ I don’t struggle with how to feel this time—I’m relieved to hear her say that. And as my mother throws away what’s left of the hash-banana-bread, innocently stating how good it was, I realize why her ‘symptoms’ couldn’t be diagnosed.