Yesterday I was on my way to do some Christmas shopping when my mom called. It was nothing, she said. The doctors were following protocol, but she needed to let me know what was happening. Just in case. The shortness of breath had gotten worse as of late, and the people doing her radiation didn't know whether or not it was treatment related. So they had to figure out whether or not she had to go to the hospital - apparently it can be a signal that she's reacting in some way that's not good. My sister works in Glastonbury, and since I was in New Haven, it would be easier for me to get there faster, you know, just in case. Since my sister and I are my mom's medical proxy people or whatever it's called, we're the ones that have to make the decisions if my mom can't.
So one of us has to be there. Just in case.
I can't even tell you how these three words have become the bane of my existence. (That's my new favorite saying, by the way. I don't know if I'm spelling 'bane' right, but whatever.) So, this just in case, this inbetween, this chronic edge of something maybe happening, this moment being thrown into total disarray - you're heading to Target, and out of nowhere the phone rings and you have to go to the hospital, to be there just in case. And no one ever wants to finish that sentence. It was like the woman at the cardiac center this morning, knowing my mom, asking me how things were going, and telling me her mom had gone through some of the same stuff. There was an awkward pause, where I would have normally asked how she was doing, and in that same instant realizing that her mom might not have made it, so we just lookat at each other for a second, and then it faded away.
I sat in the car, pulled over in front of the hospital, sobbing. My mother had called back to tell me that she didn't need to go to the hospital, that the doctor's office had said just to come in in the morning for an appointment. "I don't want to do this anymore," I said between heaving sobs. And Raf, ever the wise man that he is, looked out the window and said, "I don't think your mom does either." And then we drove away.
Life is so different now. I make my lists and start my days, and I'm always forgetting something or losing my keys or my phone or my wallet. On any given day, when the phone rings, you wonder if it's the call you're dreading, or someone from work you forgot to call back, or maybe just one of your friends trying to keep you from hiding out. Because work is pushed aside and meetings are pushed aside and your entire world grinds to a halt, for that continuous moment on the precipice, that second you realize you're falling before you catch yourself, that part where you miss the last step and your heart skips - it's mostly right there. Continually ready to be there, you know - just in case.