Watching a loved one slide away is something society doesn't talk about, it's the elephant in the room. Illness is a demon you can never rid yourself from. More often than not our loved ones are sick long before we realize it. She was unstable, we saw her struggle with mental health and diagnosis, we dealt with the wrath of her outbreaks and blamed it on her bipolar. We never believe that our loved one is more sick than we already know. The aneurysms acted as amplifiers for her manic behaviour, we thought it was normal. Her time clock was about to expire, using what little time she had left to run tests. Appointments lined up, one after the other, becoming frequents to the hospital. Then the surgery day is decided, the day she will be turned from ill to new.
When do we stop living and start surviving? She became a patient who never became a person again.
When a loved one gets sick they choose to protect you, shield you from the pain and withhold the risks. I don’t blame her for not telling me— she knew I’d worry. And isn't that what we do best? Protect you from the harsh truth and shield you from inevitable reality.
When surgery day rolls around, the person we knew before the patient makes an appearance. For a brief moment life feels normal, like the last year wasn’t a battlefield. You tell everyone that we’ll see them after a quick nap— until we don’t. Now this is the part nobody talks about, but frankly we relive it everyday. We sit and await your arrival, marvelling for hours on end until our reunion, these feel like years. The wait comes to an end when we're told that “we should talk somewhere more private,” your heart leaps from your chest and slams right on the floor in front of you.
Nobody ever talks about traumatic loss, treating it like an untold fable. Life escapes you when you face loss. We become robots who are programmed to do and not feel. Disconnecting the wiring to your heart so you're able to pick up the pieces and put them back together. She was fighting for her life. Illness steals the person we love and turns them into someone we no longer recognize. We walk into their hospital room and see a body there, one that we barely recognize. We can’t help but stare at the tubes and wires flowing form their body, slowly our breath begins to synchronize with the beeps of the machines. We notice that her body moves, gaining this assurance that in fact she is inside that cavity. Until we’re told that the machines are breathing for her, she no longer has control of her body.
So we sit there, we talk to our comatose loved ones and pretend that they can hear us, we begin to confess about the lies we've told, hoping that they wake up to yell at us. But they don’t. We demand them to wake as if it's a sick game they're playing on us. But they don't budge. We hold their hand for what little time we have left and sob that we will never hold it again. We question why us? Why them? As if God's plan was unfair. We try to understand, make sense of the situation but it was inevitable and we know it. Loss so hard to understand and believe that we refrain from looking them in the eye. I sat by her bed in the ICU for days on end too scared to look at her anymore, too afraid that my mind would start exchanging good memories with trauma. So I looked away, closed my eyes and wished the image away as if it was a bad dream.
In my scenario her heart was telling her to stay but her brain was deciding it was time. Another untold truth, the notion of time when we face loss. Sometimes we feel it deep in our bones that they were ready. Before she went into surgery she already had one foot in the grave and the other here on earth. She was tired, done, needed to rest. And those who have not lost don’t understand this concept, they tell you it was “too soon”, “tragic”, and they might be right but it was time and we can’t manipulate God's wills.
We see this new path in front us, one were unsure how to navigate it but we run towards it in hopes it numbs the pain. We trudge forward as best as we can and others tell us "you're doing so well" and "she would be so proud"as if they expected us to be anything less than okay.
Nobody talks about the ordinary day. The Tuesday afternoon you’re leaving from work and you hear a song that reminds you of the person you lost. The night terrors you have where you relive the funeral and see them in their inevitable demise. Everybody ‘understands’ holidays are tough—but fails to realize everyday is tough. Everyday you're reminded of the person you lost. It never gets easier, we just learn to adapt.
Those of us who have lost someone aren't broken, we're navigating new territories, we're confused, were trying to steer ourselves to safety.
In the end her brain outworked her, her brain swelled and her heart shrunk.
Rest Easy Momma xo