Her dreams fly with the darkest of skies and the deepest of sorrows. Painted pictures, all in different shades of black. Her hair lies gently on the pillow as if carved by Michelangelo himself. Her eyes consumed by REM and flutter like a wing-broken butterly above the grass of summer. Tossing and turning, moist by saltiness and anguish. Suns that will never rise again. Tomorrows that will never come knocking. A whirlwind of screams and hearts speaking in tounges. A normal night for her, another gold medal for what cannot be changed. She tries hard to colour her daylight but at night, she watches her painting turn posterized…
She’s never looked so pale, so thin and so helpeless. Mia stood at her bedside and held her hand.
– Where am I?
– In the hospital, mum, in the hospital. You were getting worse again…
She sighed and looked like she was going into a cramp situation again. Mia held her breath. It was heart breaking to see her own mother this way.
The fear of experiencing again, how her face turned in cramps and her body shaking uncontrollably was a terrifying fear for her,
but she knew she couldn’t panic herself but had to stay calm. A seconds went by, but it felt like hours. No cramps. Thank god.
Mia touched her pale cheeks with the softest touch and tried to smile. The greatest part of her life, her best friend was lying here and she could see
the life disappearing from the one person that she needed the most.
The doctor came in and asked to speak to Mia and her brother and her mother’s husband.
His face was friendly but not very compassionate. He was tall and the white coat was like a drape on his shoulders.
The room he took her to was tiny. One little table and four small chairs. That was it.
– I know this is difficult for you…
Mia felt tears rolling down her cheek and was unable to say anything so she just nodded in agreement.
– See, with your mothers condition…
Boy, was she ever o tired of hearing that. Yes, she had cancer but all tests showed that it was getting better, the CEA tests were better.
Because someone has a decease, it didn’t mean that they were less important to save.
– There isn’t so much we can do but to keep her here for observation.
– She needs an IV, she needs fluids. She was puking all night and is dehydrated, mum’s husband said.
– Hmm.. Well sometimes it doesn’t really help. And sometimes if the veins are too weak, we might damage them instead.
She couldn’t even remember how many countless of conversations they had had with doctors, that just like this where they were hesitant to help at all.
She couldn’t beieve that a human life was worth less than trying everything in their power to help. Screw money, all she wanted was for her mother to
receieve the very best health care that she deserved, which was everything. How many times were they met with ignorant doctors, nurses, people that saw
her like nothing but a number, a patient in a room. The few really kind and helpful people along the way, were easy to count on one hand.
The others she couldn’t even begin to count as they had been there for five years, trying to get their way instead of trying to help.
For five years she had struggled with her cancer. She had worked full time for four of them. What an amazingly strong woman.
They had fought the health care system to be able to chose which treatment, if any, they wanted themselves. They had been abroad for treatments, they had spent
countless hours speaking to doctors in different countries. Fought their way along so that they would buy time and hopefully a cure.
She was given a Sirtex treatment that unfortunately did not have have the outcome they were hoping for but it made her less tired and more alive.
After a few months, however, the fluids started building up within her stomach. That’s when it started getting more complicated.
Between the sobs, Mia whispered.
– It doesn’t matter. I hear what you’re saying but I need you to do everything for my mother. It’s my mother! She deserves a chance.
Mia knew that it was a lot to ask God to give them a second chance. They had already gotten one. A month later her mother was starting to get worse.
The night before the planned visit at the hospital, to drain the ascitic fluid, she disappeared from her mind. After sickness and a very confusing stage they had left
early to see the doctor and when Mia came up there to visit, she was gone. She hardly recognized her, hardly knew who she was or where she were.
The loving mother that Mia knew was no longer, she was an angry woman who wanted her way or else. It was not a stroke but pressure in her brain. That’s when the
cramps started also. Horrible cramps where nothing could be done but to call the nurse for medicine. The vision of her mother in that state was almost too
much to handle but they all helped as much as they could, Mia her brothers and her mother’s man. They all participated in trying to help her mother and to get her home again.
After a few days of not being herself, she slowly started to come back. Mia and her family had brought her home, contacted a team to look after her at home but soon
realised that they weren’t there to help her, only make sure that she was ‘comfortable’ her last days. She didn’t need palliative care, she needed to come back and so with
determination and arguments with doctors she was prescribed cortisone and antibacterial medicine. This helped. Slowly but surely her strength came back. Mia was
so pleased to see her fight her way back to life again. All she wished for was a chance to speak to her mother again, like she used to.
She made remarkable progress the following weeks. Even though she still had symptoms of the pressure in the brain,
such as the fact that she would see text, letters and things that didn’t exist – she had fought her way back to walking, talking and getting back to her self.
Almost anyway. Mia was so extremely pleased and she thanked god every day. Even though things would never be the same. She couldn’t talk to her like before,
speaking about problems and heartache. She didn’t want to upset her mother, who was very emotional. Still, she was back from being lost and that’s all that matters.
Christmas and New Years came and went. It was amazing to be able to gather everyone and spend holidays like they always had been before.
Of course there was always a nagging feeling and worry that things would get worse, after the last time, but these were thoughts that they all pushed aside.
They enjoyed time as it were, in sickness and in health, all together. Like always.
But then this.
– I will speak to the doctor on call about what we can do to help, ok.
They followed the nurses as tey wheeled the bed up to the third floor, her mother weak, whispering for them to be there. Mia walking after, feeling how her heart
was left behind in another reality, another time. The pain in her stomach increased and she almost felt like bending over, but with a steady pace she kept up with the
Another bare room without warmth or love. Just walls, the bed and a bed side table. Mia grabbed a chair and pulled up beside the bed. Her mums breathing was worse now.
With the dehydration, the asthma and her body so weak, she needed help. The nurse put a gas mask over her face but she tried hard to pull it off again, seemingly
it was very uncomfortable.
– You need to keep in on, mummy, please keep it on, you need it.
Mias head was spinning, her world made no sense. Nurses, doctors, they all made a guest appearence on the horrific stage that played out before her eyes.
She wanted to curl into a ball and cry her fears away but she couldn’t. She had to be there and be strong. As strong as she could be.
The nurses put an IV in but it didn’t drip properly. They tried to adjust it by touching it but the nurse came in and told them not to do that.
Fatique had since long taken over. Weeks of hardly any sleep, worrying and fear had taken it’s toll. Emotions that she never knew she possessed had taken
over her body and mind and grinded every bit of energy she had into nothing more than dust.
– But… she needs fluids. What about cortisone? What about medicine for the swelling in the brain? Something, anything?
Her mum had managed to release herself of the shackles that was the oxygen mask and it was lying right under her nose. It didn’t look very comfortable at all so
Mia tried to adjust again, fighting with her mum’s waving hands, trying to ignore the sighs of irritation coming from her. But the rubber band was tangled into her
hair, in the back and she couldn’t do it no more. Tears found there way to the corner of her eyes as she took her mum’s hand.
-It’s going to be fine, I promise.
Her mum looked at her with tired eyes and uttered the last words she would ever hear from her.
– Why? When it was going so well…
Mia felt her hope and courage fall to the floor right there and then but she refused to show how worried she was, but smiled and shook her head as if to say: “I don’t
know, I really don’t know.”
They pressed the button to get the nurse to come on, to ask where the doctor was. They had been waiting for the doctor for a few hours now. The nurse came in.
She was short with very short hair, in her 50’s, Mia guesses. She spoke in a soft tone of voice but what she said wasn’t pleasing.
– We can’t put the IV anywhere else, we fear it will break her veins.
– She needs fluids…
– The doctor will talk to you when he get’s here. I know this is tough.
Mia wanted to tell her that she had no idea that her whole world was about to rend and that nothing would ever be fine again. Ever.
But she silently let the tears fall down her cheeks instead.
Anoher hour went by. Her mother fell asleep and then woke up and fell asleep again. She made attempts of getting out of the bed and Mia panicked. She didn’t know
how to handle situations like that but she knew that her mother hated hospitals and really wanted to be home. She felt like she had failed her but when
she was lying sick in bed at home, unable to move, there was no way that they could handle it. The last time she needed hospital help, she got home again and better.
This time would be the same, she would get help, get better and then come home again. Nothing else was an option.
Mia felt how tired she was, how sick she felt. She was no fan of hospitals either. Only seven months earlier she had lost her father in the same hospital.
She hated it. She wanted nothing to do with it. She hated to be here, she hated the reasons for being there. But she couldn’t run away.
Finally, at 4am the doctor came in. He was another tall man with no smile. But he spoke in words that made them feel better. He considered her mother too weak to empty
fluids in her tummy right now but if he gave her some diuretics then it may make the swolling less and the breathing easier. Cortison could make it worse so he
didn’t want to do that. Oxygen via mist would be a better option as well. Then he said that she would probably be strong enough tomorrow morning,
to empty the ascitic fluids.
Hope! Finally hope! A doctor that talked about a tomorrow. Hope.
As he left, the nurse with the soft voice looked at Mia and her family and told them that they looked tired.
– You should go home and get some sleep so that you can be here and talk to the doctors on the round tomorrow. You need to sleep to stay strong, she said and gave
them a compassionate smile.
Mia was afraid she would fall asleep at the wheels as she drove the twenty minute ride home, but she felt so sick and wanted to run out of the hospital.
They decided to get a couple of hours of sleep before coming back and as they left, Mia kissed her mother on the forehead. The nurse was in the room, now giving her
oxygen via mist and her mother looked right at her as she walked out of the room. Mia waved and behind the mist of oxygen her mother forced a smile from the
beautiful face, now swollen from lack of oxygen. That was the best and prettiest smile she ever knew. A smile she had seen so many times and loved utterly.
It was starting to get dark outside as Mia drove home. She didn’t want to drive too fast even though she was so tired and wanted to sleep, but she didnt want to
crawl either so she stayed at the speed limit until she got home. Her eyes constantly glancing over at the phone next to her. She hated that phone. It’s not like
she ever received nice phone calls, it was always about illnesses and heart ache. She put the keys in the door and went in. It was quiet. Her family was sound asleep
and as she got undressed and went to lie down beside her man, he woke up and asked what the story was. In a minute or two she quickly explained and then lied her head
on the pillow to get some rest, firmly holding the phone in her hand.
– Just a few hours, she whispered as her man put his hand around her waist. I’m so tired.
One minute, that’s all it was. One minute and then the phone rang. It was her mothers husband.
– They’ve just called us from the hospital. Her breathing has changed, we need to go.
Within a split second Mia was awake again. No tiredness. She was as awake as you can be. Heart pounding. In an instant she started sweating.
– I have to go…
– Let me know what happens, her man said and hugged her.
She would have liked to have him come with but the kids were sleeping so she got dressed and started driving again, this time fast, really fast. Her mind was
racing with memories of her father in his hospital bed, all the struggles throughout the years with doctors and illnesses and pain. She drove fast in the night.
It was getting closer to 5am now and she thought that she could push the twenty minute limit to get there if only she stepped on it, so she did. No cops in sight,
hardy any cars.
The tears burned behind her eyelids as she parked her car, ran for the entrance and up to the reception.
She was out of breath and couldn’t speak anyway because of the pulse in her throught. It was pounding so hard that she was worrying that it would burst.
If nothing else there was a big risk that she would faint.
The receptionist recognized her from the a few hours before and opened the door. Mia ran through the corridores, took the elevator and headed for the room.
The door was closed.
She took a deep breath before opening it. Would she be prepared to sit and watch the life run out of her mother, watch her take her last breath. Could she.
Mia opened the door. Silence for a second, then sobs. She walked up to the bed and there she was, lying there like an angel, sleeping.
They were crying all around her, sobbing, screaming, asking why. Why did this happen. Why.
She walked up to the bed and the tears started flooding. She looked so beautiful. The gold necklace with a golden heart was hanging around her neck.
Her long eyelashes framed the eye lids and she looked peaceful.
The nurse in the room, the one with the soft voice looked at Mia.
– As soon as you left she seemed to have found an inner peace. She fell asleep and breathed slowly. It’s like she was ok. She wanted to take the step alone.
I held her hand and caressed her cheek. She was at peace.
I can’t say that you’re wrong lady, but what the hell. We were suppose to be here with her. She was actually suppose to be stronger in a few hours.
That’s what the doctor said. What the hell happened?
Mia was struck by anger and grief, all at once.
As the sobs of grief filled the rooms, Mia tried to be supportive of her family. They were all broken, just like she was. But if she could help
them, she would feel better. That’s what her mother would have wanted. She blinked all her tears away and tried to speak to the nurse about practical things.
Would anyone come to see her, what would she wear, would she be buried with the necklace.
So surreal. A large chunk of her heart was missing. Her life would never be the same. Her very best friend in the whole world was gone.
And here she was talking technicalites with a stranger who was there as she took her last breath.
They spent hours in that room. The room that was suppose to help her but instead swallowed her life and remained just as empty and cold as when they arrived.
Questions, phone calls, tears.
Mia hadnt thought about it and we were all too exhausted to even function. But when talking afterwards they realised that giving her diuretics when she was dehydrated
was not a good idea. Anger. Anxiety. Guilt. But the doctor should have known. It really couldn’t be their fault. Yet they blamed themselves.
They went in to get help for her, for the love of their lives.
They went in so that she could get better, so that they could bring her home.
They went to the hospital because the people working there could help.
And they went home without her soul, her beautiful smile and her love.
They had to leave her there, lying like an angel in the bed. All alone.
That’s the worst thing she ever had to do, Mia, and she would never ever get over it.
Not a day goes by without her thinking about her mother. It’s like she has lost her life and struggles to regain it, although in a totally different shape and form.
She will not find the same happiness again but she will work hard on trying to laugh. Life threw grief her way and she tries every day to overcome it.
It will take time. She will make it. But the loss of her mother will always be there, like a scar in her heart. Forever and ever.
And like the angel she is, her mother will watch over her.