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.