“I’m in laundromat hell. I’m not sure what sin I’ve committed to get here, but I’m here nonetheless! There are no washing machines free and I’m not the only one waiting. Surely this is what hell is like. People probably even speak French there.”—Me, in a letter to my parents from my year abroad in France.
Today started by getting a call from my dad saying that instead of coming home today he had gotten a call from the hospital saying they were moving my mom to a different floor because they couldn’t get her to wake up. They called it extreme sleep apnea. Then my dad got to the hospital to discover that she was in the ICU, the same place she was in a few years ago when she had a severe allergic and almost died. However, they seemed to think if they just pumped the carbon dioxide out of her system she would wake up and it would be fine (assuming she wore a cpap machine when she slept). Then as the day wore on she would wake up a bit then again not at all. And the message seemed to be that that carbon dioxide was out of her system, but she wasn’t responding. And the nurse told my dad she’d never seen anything like it and everyone was flummoxed. But finally my dad talked to a doctor who said the carbon dioxide is NOT out of her system and now they have the cpap machine on her and there is a good chance that if she sleeps until the bad stuff is pushed out she will wake up feeling better. So…I guess I never thought I’d be glad to hear my mom has carbon dioxide in her blood.
The thing is, if my brother had died of a heart attack, or cancer, or had been hit by a bus, I think I could have easily said, “this terrible thing has befallen my family,” but the fact is, he killed himself. And he leaves behind 4 broken hearted boys, a wife, parents who don’t know how to go on, and siblings and step siblings who are torn between grieving and holding everyone else together.
Of all the terrible things about today a few things stand out, one is my little 5 year old nephew saying to me to explain why his mom is crying, “My mom’s just really sad because our dad is dead.” And my 6 year old nephew coming into the room and saying so simply, “I miss Dad.” My 10 year old nephew sitting with his mom looking through the photos on her phone for pictures of his Dad. My 14 year old nephew just sitting, not able to engage, looking so lost, like he might never be able to smile again.
I guess what I’m saying is that today is in a pretty close race with yesterday for winner of worst day ever, but I was with my family and we cried and we laughed and we cooked and we drank and we leaned on each other the best we could.
“After work my buddies and I would go out and steal cars…”—Another uncle. This wasn’t even the story, just the background to the story, which was actually about stealing bread and milk from the restaurant stoops.