Writing on a scrap of paper in the hospital room in the dark

I'm sitting here in the dark because the light bothers her eyes. Just a minute ago the brightness filled in every gap from above, energy darting back and forth, wasting away in the moment, but for now it's dark, until the next healthcare professional flips on the switch to my sanity.

I sit here and stare. I sit here and think. I sit here and telepathically try to heal the patient lying on the bed beside me. I know her. She's my mother. The pressure in her blood is low, but the pressure of my lifeblood is high, self-imposed and going nowhere, deteriorating its scope, merging into these sick walls. Until she's better, I'm on high alert.

There's the IV, straight in front of me, delivering hydration into mom's body as she dips further into sleep, the unconscious state of mind once taken for granted, now a delicacy. One mississippi, two mississippi - the count's eight missisippis before the intravenous pump sighs again, joining the constant hum of the air coming up through the radiator. The vertical blinds touch one another like reciprocal dominoes. They swing side to side, as effortless as a windmill's stride, picking up energy in the constant as fluids replenish this dehydrated, nutrient-deficient lifeform. She's sick, so sick she's in bed, in the hospital bed, in the oncology ward 5K Providence Medical Center, S.E. 47th Street, Portland, Oregon.

For the seventh time this weekend I glide back and forth like a surreal video game character stuck in worried purgatory. I drive her car from home's garage to the C-level hospital parking lot. Her car is like a ghost of where she once was. Her CDs keep me company as I sail down the 205 North, onto the 84/30 West, knowing I'll eventually have to drive back home again. I'm dreading the flight back to where I live. The only person who needs me there is currently writing these words, and I've never been much for self-serving in times like this. I walk slow-motion up to her room, up to a place where I sit here and sit here and not know what to do, not that I'm conscious of what I'm supposed to do. What I want has been displaced by unplanned necessity. The motions have set forth, put on automatic, and we're all just riding the tides, riding the tides ruled by this empty influential moon, its institutional trappings ready to turn on us and devour us all.

I'm writing in the dark. I can't see what's happening on the paper. It's all just spilling out like a good cry, only I'm not sad. I'm just a numb presence in this ill place. I can feel the drugs blocking out the pain. I can hear the TVs distracting the vegetables. I can smell the pleasant courtesy flowers. I can sense the impending flatliners signaling the end. I'm crying with the sympathy cards, I'm laughing with the twilight nurses in the break room, I'm theoretically plotting to make health a citizen's right, so it's no longer privileged, so plastic surgery is no longer performed in a world that suffers malnutrition, but then I look back at my mom's vibrating eyelids and I realize that nothing is as easy as it seems. These thoughts are stoned and fleeting. These cancer-fighting hospital junkie days will be the longest days of her life, but once they're over, they will be over, and we'll toast the struggle, because it has reminded us that we're not immortal, we're not apathetic, we're not moving day to day, going through the motions, self-consumed, self-esteemed, self-assured. I'm right here, sitting bedside, writing into the darkness listening to the hum of the IV, the sodium chloride hydrating plastic bag pumping life into the woman on the bed, the woman on the bed, lying there, eyes closed under a damp folded washcloth, the twin painkillers dilauded and opium subduing this pain that keeps crawling back, it keeps crawling back, pulling her side effect strings all over like a puppet of vulnerability. Her tumor runs the show, the presiding master of ceremonies unaware that he's about to be assassinated, the life in him halted, the corrupt and potentially spreading power forever a memory, his propaganda simply a myth...

I pause, looking down at my folded paper, filled with hurried handwriting, words I don't even remember writing. I wonder if I'll be able to understand it all when the lights are switched back on, energy's renewed, when we're no longer afraid of what does not make any sense, when we're no longer hurt by ignorance, and we can move on. When I was a kid, mom always told me not to read in the dark because it would damage my eyes. It had never occurred to me that it was dark. Now I'm writing in the dark, conscious of the darkness, and my eyes have never been more open to the potential damage.


Blogger Ross Douglas said...

Just a wee note to let you know I got your letter.

I'm sitting here with a lump in my throat at this post. My heart bleeds for you and I wish and hope that some form of relief comes for you and your mother.

Peace. & Love.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Pirooz M. Kalayeh said...

Love to you and your mum, P

2:46 AM  
Blogger Klova said...

Delia, I hope your mother gets better soon.

Take care of yourself and stay strong.

5:32 PM  

it was good talking to you the other night. lets talk again soon. i really appreciate your writing about all these sorts of hard emotions. it's pretty brave.

9:54 AM  

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