Waiting room

The hospital definitely has its own subculture. I realize I am not the first person to make this observation.

In the waiting room you don’t know if it’s day or if it’s night. Hours pass and pass and pass and it’s impossible to keep track. You find moments of strength at the oddest times, and then, come apart over nothing.

There is a woman here whose daughter has been in the ICU for over a week. Her spine snapped in half in a car accident. The doctors here put her back together. She can wiggle her fingers. She will live. But, just that knowledge — she will live — doesn’t feel like enough. This woman has circles under her eyes that say, “I haven’t slept in 10 days.”

My mom will live too. And just like this mother, it’s not enough. I want to talk to her. I want her to know I’m here. I want her to call me Meggie. I want the last conversation we had before this to not be about over the counter treatments for UTI. At least we said “I love you” at the end. We always do.

My dad’s like me. He can’t bring himself to leave this room even to sleep in a comfortable bed. We promised each other that we would start to try tomorrow. Because actually, this is the easy part. This shit doesn’t even really start to get hard until the day she comes home.

I didn’t realize that I am totally out of it until I tried to go to dinner with friends tonight for my 25th birthday. I was a zombie. All I could talk about was hospital stuff — I used the word “intubation” like it’s something people just talk about. I didn’t realize that I’m pretty far from “ok” and that everyone around me is also in shock. We thought we were being totally normal and strong.

We were wrong.

Later, I’d like to write a “How to process the fact that your mother almost died and you are now in charge,” except I can’t because I know this is different for everyone. And even though I’m now the family member of a survivor, an offical part of that hollow eyed tribe, there’s still no advice I can give to the new members of our waiting room society (a new family added tonight) to take away or lessen their pain.

Yesterday I told my mom: “We’ve been together 25.9 years tomorrow. Don’t you dare leave me now.”

She squeezed my hand, so I’ll take that as a, “I’m trying.”

And that’s enough right now, but only because it has to be.



Filed under Family, Growing Pains, Life

3 responses to “Waiting room

  1. grams

    I love you, Meggie……there is no bandage large enough to wrap around all this heartache and the question “why” is never answered.

    I am in awe of your father, I still think of him as ‘son’. He is the quiet, steadfast rock of this family and I know he loves us all and will help us get thru this…….I cant thank him enough for how he cares for my daughter and their children, Meggie, Emily and Josh. I love you, Tom.

    Yes, your Mother knows you are with her and she will keep trying…..xxoo

  2. merritt

    it takes so much out of you, i know. and even if you don’t think so, what you’re doing is amazing. i’ve been there, in that room, for my mom. i may not know you well, but i’m there with you now. be well, all of you.

  3. Alexis

    These are words you left for me in my journal just a few months ago:

    “it is ok do spend time with people… there’s no right or wrong with feelings… cry when you are sad, and smile when you are a little less sad. there’s no formula.”

    Sometimes, it is best to take your own advice. I love you!

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