“My mom had another seizure, cracked her head open, attacked Ryan and called him John at Stop and Shop. So you can say I have a case of the Mondays on my hands.”
That’s what I wrote my best friend in an attempt to catch her up on everything that happened last Monday.
I signed off from work and began writing my blog post for the week. I was dressed for the gym. I figured I would get a workout in and then read through the post for any necessary edits.
I was about to leave my apartment when my phone began to buzz.
Ryan was calling.
For a moment, I thought to myself, “Maybe this time it will be something nice.”
It’s never nice.
“Mom fell down and had another seizure,” he began. “She fell back and cracked her head open. She was bleeding everywhere and when she came to, she attacked me. She kept calling me John. I had to jump on her to hold her down, like alligator wrestling her on the ground.”
I kept punctuating his comments with things like “WHAT?” and “Oh my god.” I mean, what else are you supposed to say to that? He was understandably shook and he didn’t want to go to the hospital.
“Is that messed up?” he asked. “Does that make me a bad person? If I don’t follow the ambulance to the hospital?”
“Ryan,” I said, “No. Absolutely not. She attacked you. You have dealt with enough and this is next-level insane. No one can possibly blame you for not wanting to see her right now. Just go home. I’ll go.”
We talked a little bit more until he was calm. I promised him I would call Uncle Eddie and Aunt Patty to let them know what was going on and keep everyone updated. When we began to say goodbye, he tried to end the call like a normal conversation and said, “Have a good day.”
We both laughed really hard and then hung up.
Dave had come into the bedroom for the tail-end of the conversation. I had thrown myself across the bed and into the pillows. He sat on the dresser with one of our cats, Bacon. He waited for the call to end and then he asked me, “So, what was that about?”
And I told him what I knew.
“Okay,” he paused, “We’re going.”
Mom, I love that man.
I made a call to Aunt Patty and changed into casual clothes. I braided my hair to keep it off my face but I was also killing time because I didn’t want to see you. I put on light make-up, brushed my teeth, and kept reminding myself to keep breathing.
I was killing time because a part of me thought you might be dying.
Dave and I talked about everything but you on the ride down: Politics, music, career ambitions. We picked up Wendy’s for dinner even though I thought I might throw it up. I made up a song about having a panic attack and I kept wringing my fingers.
When we arrived at the hospital and found our way to your curtained room, you were sleeping. You were propped up with a bloodied pillow, had a bloodied bandage around your head, and your neck was in a brace. I flagged down a nurse’s aide who promised to flag down someone with more information as soon as she could. Then you woke up.
Dave told me to get closer to you, which was something I hadn’t done in years: being directly by your side. It was a foreign concept to me. I asked you how you were feeling, what you remembered, what exactly happened?
You began wringing your fingers, too.
“I was in the Stop and Shop with Ryan,” you began, “and I was reaching out for yogurt and my hand wasn’t working. I kept trying to grasp it, but I couldn’t move my fingers. And then I fell backwards.”
You either didn’t remember what happened with Ryan or you chose not to talk about it. You kept asking when he was coming back or where he was. I kept having to tell you he wasn’t there and that he never was there.
I didn’t want to talk about what you did to Ryan.
I didn’t know what to talk to you about and I didn’t know how to make anything better for you. You told me you hadn’t been eating, hadn’t been sleeping, and you were still having a terrible time adjusting to life without Ed. I asked the nurse’s aide if you could have water and possibly some medication to help you sleep. There wasn’t much else I could do and you kept saying Dave and I didn’t have to be there with you.
But we weren’t going to leave you alone.
Moments later, a nurse came to give us an update. “She cut her head when she fell, but she doesn’t have a fracture,” he said. He asked questions about your health and asked about any doctors you’ve seen, but you don’t see doctors unless it’s an emergency like this. He then said, “She presented as suicidal. Has this ever happened before?”
And I said, “Yes.”
I felt like I said something I wasn’t supposed to, but I wanted you to get better. This was your second seizure within 30 days and your head was split open. Your alcoholism over the years led you to this exact point. You never got the help you needed and now hospital protocol was forcing you to be evaluated by a professional.
As I stood at the edge of your bed, I was relieved someone else heard what you had been saying my entire life. You always said Ryan and I would be better off with you dead.
Since we were kids, Mom.
To top it off, I was feeling déjà vu. Exactly one decade ago, you were standing at the edge of my hospital bed and I was the one presenting as suicidal in the emergency room.
Now that’s a horse of a different color.
(To be Continued…)