You were rotting away in the hospital, and what were we doing?
Celebrating Christmas Eve.
What type of people were we?
He stood with you as the ventilators breathed for you. He was bone tired. You could see it in his face. The lack of food and sleep had gotten to him. He refused to leave the hospital as much as we begged him to. He did not want to leave your side. He wanted to be there when you finally took your last gasp. You did not look like you.
I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to go into the hospital room to see you. I do not like hospitals. It’s the same aura of sadness in each one. The same overwhelming smell of Clorox. I had seen the insides of too many during my childhood, as I had to sit there helpless watching certain family members wither away. You were one of my favorite people on this planet and I did not want to see you in that state. My mom took my hand and led me toward the room. Before we entered, she said, “This may be the last time you see her, so say your goodbyes.”
How many times did I need to go through this? How many people did I need to lose?
I did not even know what to say at that point because I felt like I was talking to a stranger. That was not you.
How could a family even celebrate a holiday when someone was in the hospital fighting for their life?
I was angry. Everyone went on about their evening like nothing was happening. It was like two different worlds. Everyone gathered around the tree to exchange gifts. Every fiber in my body wanted to scream. I did not want to be there. It was like we were pretending. Pretending to be this happy family when we were all in fact broken.
The tree was situated in the living room and surrounded by the sofas you all sat on. The dining room table was full of food. I thought to myself how can anyone even eat right now? People were laughing. Telling jokes.
Are you all mad?
I would have traded all those gifts under the tree for your recovery. But that isn’t how it works right? People are taken from us when God thinks it’s their time and we must accept it? For someone who grew up in a Catholic family and attended Catholic school, I always felt like I could not decide for myself what I wanted to believe in. It was kind of forced upon me. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God. But I’ve been angry. I’ve wanted to yell and ask why he had to take my loved ones from me. One of the people who showered me in love since the day I was born.
People went in for second and third plates of food. Kids ran around the house playing hide and seek. The adults were on glass number 5 of wine. Christmas music played in the background. I felt like my body was there, but my mind was not. I was floating around this house. I wanted to yell and break something.
How could you celebrate and drink and laugh? Was I the only one who loved her?
My head was spinning; my mind cloudy. My disappointment was boiling to the surface. My legs managed to carry me to and from, but I did not feel like myself. I felt like my soul was back in that hospital room with you.
The host of the party gathered everyone around the table, asked everyone to raise a glass, and made a toast. I thought, this is insanity.
Then the phone rang.
I stood there by the foot of the mahogany table and watched the expression on her face shift from a smile to something serious.
She did not even have to say anything. I knew it.
You had passed away.
I was mad at the world. Mad at all of you. You all stood here pretending to care. I had spent most of my childhood days with her. Where were you guys then? You gathered around at this god forsaken party to celebrate a holiday without her here. If you loved her, you would not have indulged yourself in alcohol and plates of food.
Why didn’t you spend time with her when she was still herself? Why didn’t you call or come visit? Life is hard enough already, don’t make it harder by being phony. I was angry. I felt like no one cared. Not one single person.
That’s how it works right? People do not care about you when you are alive and well but will gather around your casket at the funeral and speak about how loved you were.
Where was the time to grieve? Where were the tears? The sadness?
This was supposed to be family?
I went outside. I needed air and to rid myself of all of you.