My ten year old brain was still fogged with sleep as someone shook me awake. I opened my eyes to see a big pair of blue eyes staring back at me.
“Kim, wake up. I have to be at surgery at five this morning,” said my mother urgently. I groaned and turned over longing for more sleep. I almost fell back asleep until I heard my mother almost snarl in a voice I knew all too well. If I did not listen I would be in big trouble.
“I am giving you until the count of three to get up.”
I pulled myself out of bed and methodically and walked to my closet to put my clothes on. It is January 10 and the weather is frigid. My father pokes his head in my room.
“Hurry up, Kim, we have to go soon.” I nod and walk over to my bathroom and begin brushing my teeth. I look in the mirror to see the toothpaste foaming up in my mouth and I remind myself of a mad dog. I then go to the living room and plop down on the couch. My stomach rumbles.
“I’m hungry,” I whine as my parents are bustling through the house to leave. My mother stops and looks at me. Her curly blond hair is in a messy bun on her head.
“Your aunt is bringing you a biscuit from Hardees for breakfast at the surgical center,” she says giving me a small smile. The she comes down to eye level with me.
“You know I love you, right? You know me and your dad will always be there for you, right?”
“Of course,” I say resisting the urge to pout about not getting to eat my breakfast now. My mom then hugs me and kisses me on the cheek.
“Put your shoes on. We’re about to leave.”
“Okay” I say moodily. My mom gives me a stern look.
“I mean, uh, yes ma’am,” I say flashing her the cheesiest smile I can possibly muster. She laughs and continues bustling. My dad sits beside me to puts his shoes on. A blue cap conceals his bald head.
“Dad can we go fishing soon?” I say in a pleading voice.
“After your mother recovers from her surgery,” he says smiling a little. He then looks at me for a while.
“Maybe me and you can go by ourselves,” he says gently pulling my hair. I laugh and playfully swat his hand away. I knew my dad could never resist me when I am batting my eyelashes at him. Oh the privileges of being an only child. I rub my hands together in a way that makes a movie villain look like an amateur at his craft.
“Kim come on,” I hear my father say while stifling a yawn. I had not even noticed that they were standing at the door waiting on me. I jump up and run towards the door a little too quickly for my own good. I nearly trip on the way to the door. My mom just shakes her head and walks out of the house.
“Kim how old are you?” My dad says sternly I lower my head and sputter out “nine.”
“Act like it.” My dad holds the door open for me and I obediently walk out to our small white car. I climb into the car and wait for it to start.
“Put your seatbelt on,” my dad says when he shuts the door for me.
I put the wretched contraption on and it immediately starts to rub my neck and I open my mouth to complain but then I notice that my mom is very quiet.
“Everything will be okay, dear,” my father says to her while starting the car. He grabs her hand and kisses her on the mouth. She smiles a little. I shudder at the fact that I just watched my parents kiss. I push that thought away and clear my throat.
“Yeah and then we can go fishing!” I say trying to hint at my mom. They both turn back at me and smile. I grin and then we begin our journey to the surgical center. I stare at all of the lights. It is still dark even though it is morning time. I start to ask why but then I remember what my third grade teacher said about the position of the sun and the moon in the day and night time. The car comes to a stop and I realize that we were already at the office. I open the door and hop out. I stretch the limbs on my body like a tree and walk in behind my parents, who are holding hands.
“Maria,” says one of my favorite voices. I turn to see my aunt walking up to us with a Hardees bag in her hand. I see my mom smile and hug her mother.
“Aunt Karen!” I yell as I jump into her arms.
“I brought you breakfast,” she said smiling.
“Thank goodness, they were trying to starve me to death,” I say loudly. She laughs and puts her hand in mine and we walk into the surgical center together. My mother goes up to the front and they tell her to wait for a moment. Then before I can even eat breakfast they call her back.
“I want my family to come back before I am put under,” my mom says while fiddling with a stray hair on my head.
“That will be no problem,” she says giving us a smile, “after we prep you for surgery we will bring them back.” Then my mom disappears behind the door. I reach in my Hardees bag and begin eating my breakfast. I then take a long drink of my Coke. After I finish I throw my food away.
“You can come and see her really fast,” says the nurse, who is holding the door open. I follow my dad and aunt back. We all walk into a room with big white curtains everywhere. My eyes find my mom. She is in a white hospital gown, her hair is now down. I see my dad walk over first. They kiss and then it looks like my mother is saying something intense to my father. I then watch my aunt go over. They hug for a long time, and then I cannot tell what they are saying. I know that my mother is a little nervous. It is then my turn, so I walk over to her and she smiles at me.
“I love you Kim,” she says hugging me. I kiss her on the cheek.
“You will be fine,” I say. I then look at the needle in her arm and the bag that is hanging on a metal pole.
“Does that hurt?” I asked pointing to her arm.
“Not at all, she says smiling. I will see you in a few minutes.” Then we all walk back to the waiting room. I take my seat and look at the clock. It is promptly five thirty in the morning. I sigh heavily and notice my dad pacing back and forth through the waiting room. My aunt is flipping through a magazine. I wonder how long it will be. I glance at the big sign advertising medicine on a window. I try to sound out the letters to figure out what it says. I eventually give up. My aunt looks at me with her eyes widening a little.
“Want to play ping pong on my cell phone while we wait?” she asks while adjusting her hairclip.
“Sure,” I say unable to hide my giddiness. Me and my aunt love playing each other in video games. After about fifty games of pong I look at the clock and notice it is almost twelve.
“I thought they would have been finished by now,” says my aunt, her voice shaking a little bit. My dad just stares at the floor. I chew on my thumbnail thinking of what my mom will be like when she gets out of surgery.
“Smith,” says a nurse opening a door. A shaky smile is flashed on her face.
Our heads all look towards the door and we follow the nurse into the back. She takes us to a small room with about ten chairs and two tables on the adjacent corners of the room. “Wait one moment please,” says the nurse, who then shuts the door behind her.
“More waiting? I want to see my sister,” says my aunt finding a chair. I sit down next to her and my dad paces around the room. The door creaks open and the doctor walks in. We all look up to see the doctor. His mouth is in a hard line. He shuts the door behind him.
“She has stopped breathing,” says the doctor, his head bowed low to the floor. My dad starts breathing heavily.
“Why aren’t you doing anything about it?” my aunt yells. “Let me talk to her. Maybe that will help.”
“I cannot allow you to go back yet. We will keep trying but things are not looking good.” He then turns and shuts the door behind him. My aunt pulls out her phone and starts calling everyone that she can think of. My dad sit heavily in a chair putting his face in his hand. He begins to swear and tears begin to run down his face.
Everything is going to be okay. I know it is. My mother is going to come out of this.
After hours of more waiting some of my family members show up and the pastor from church arrives. We all pray for a long time. I know it will all be okay. Then the doctor enters again. You can hear a pen drop. The doctor simply walks in with his head bowed as he shakes his head sorrowfully.
My world suddenly turned upside down. She can’t be gone. I just saw her this morning. We are going to go in and see her and everything is going to be okay. With my dad holding one hand and my aunt holding the other, we enter the hospital room.
She is just lying there. I run up to her and grab her hand. It is still warm. Hot tears blur my vision. It looks as though she is sleeping. I expect her to awaken and ask why we are all staring at her. I suddenly hope that if one of my tears hit her she will wake up like in one of those movies you see on television. But she doesn’t wake up. She never will wake up. She’s gone along with the rest of my childhood. It has been stolen by death.
My life will never be the same.
The world will never be the same.
[Written June 28, 2014]
Hey there. Matt here.
This person wrote a narrative to talk about a defining moment of her life, and sent it to me. Not all have to be as tragic as this one, but many of us are forged into the people we are through loss and pain. Please leave a comment below describing the moment that you feel singularly defines your life; the place you where you go back to the most often. Tell us about your defining moment.
Also, thanks Daily Post for featuring this topic as a daily prompt. I’m so excited!