The voice in my ear is filled with panic and wet, sobbing noises. I can barely make out the words “hospital” and “coded,” and at first I think the second word is “dead.”
Panic is contagious, and it infects me at first, filling me with terror and making me shake as I listen to the voicemail. At the same time, an unsettling emotion courses through my body and shakes me to my core, even more than the news I’ve just heard.
The emotion is relief.
I throw on my clothes, tell my husband what is happening and that I have to go to the hospital now. I say goodbye to him and my daughter and out the door I go. I feel numb. I feel relieved. I feel nothing, all at once.
I am on my way to the hospital where I’ve just been informed my mother has coded, and that’s all I know.
I get there and her friend, the one who phoned me, is there on the verge of tears. We don’t know much, only that her heart stopped and they had to revive her with the paddles. Time goes by and we are informed the heartbeat has been reestablished, but it will still be some time before we can see her. She’s asking for us.
My stomach fills with dread, with anxiety, with guilt. I make calls to family members, filling them in as much as I know at this point. My mother’s friend and I sit and wait and eventually, we are allowed to go back. They think that her potassium and magnesium levels being dangerously low sent her heart into a frenzy, causing her to flatline.
I walk into the room and she is hooked up to what seems all the machines the hospital has to offer. She has an oxygen mask over her mouth. She is in pain. She is convinced she is going to die and much to my horror and disgust, a part of me wishes that she just would. My mother has caused me so much pain, so much turmoil, and so much trauma that as I look down at her reassuring her that it will be okay, that I love her, I wonder if I actually do at all. I am disgusted with myself. I am torn. I want to run away.
She tells me that I need to tell her what she did to me. That she knows what she did, but that we have to end this. We need to forgive each other. I freeze. How can I possibly say all of the things that need to be said? Saying the angry, hateful things I have inside me toward this woman will do her nothing but harm. These venomous things that live inside of me will not make her feel any better, nor will spitting them at her make me feel any better. And yet, I cannot bring myself to simply tell her I forgive her.
I leave when visiting hours are over. I call my husband and tell him I wished she had died. Sobs wrack my entire body as the guilt fills me from head to toe. I am a horrible person, even though he assures me that I am not. She has sucked you dry, he tells me, used up all of your sympathy and pity. She has done this to everyone, but everyone else in my family has the advantage of physical distance. I am the only family member who lives here in town (since she moved away and followed me here).
I wonder why this had to happen right before Christmas. Guilt blindsides me again, and I cry. Who thinks that? I am selfish. I am terrible.
Please forgive me for feeling these things. I hate her. I love her. I don’t know which one is true.
I don’t know how to handle this.12 Comments