I hung up the phone with Shana. She was on her way over to hang out for a while. A couple minutes later the phone rang again but this time it was my father who was calling from the hospital.
“Andrew…” he said in a steady solemn voice, as if he was holding me close. I had been preparing for his call by the only way I knew how and that was by not preparing. As long as I kept my thoughts away from the current situation I was safe in my perfect world. “…you should come down here and see your mother…The doctor said this will probably be the last night.”
“Alright, I’m on my way.”
My aunt had been staying with us so I went upstairs to let her know about my father’s call. I was taken aback by the look of peace on her face and wondered if she knew what was going on. I didn’t ask because the idea of being at peace after hearing this news implied inevitability, and this terrified me. I got in my car and began the thirty mile trek to the city hospital. It was the end of January and the clouds were beginning to let snow flurries dust the ground. By the time I reached the halfway point in my trip, the flurries gave way to a genuine blizzard. The sun had already gone down so seeing the approaching road in these whiteout conditions was near impossible. My journey slowed to a crawl as the road became increasingly treacherous. Cars whose drivers did not yield to the weather were sideways in the freeway median and I saw the flashing lights from an ambulance pass on the opposite side.
Confusion fell with the winter storm and frustration began to creep into my perspiring head. “Why in God’s name does this have to happen right now?” I didn’t find this question to be unreasonable considering my destination. I just wanted to make it to the hospital safely and in good time but this was becoming increasingly difficult. In my opinion God could have chosen a better time to unleash the storm of the century and could have offered me some sympathy. The snow didn’t let up but I made it to the hospital without incident; though it took almost twice as long as it should have.
I got to my mother’s room in the oncology wing and began to gown up. I had to do this because of a breakout of lice in the wing. As I was putting on my shoe covers, the nurse walked up to me.
“I’m sorry about your mom.” I couldn’t fathom at the time why she would say this. Everything moved around me at a sickening pace and I was struggling to comprehend events. I opened the door and saw my father and sister sitting next to the bed with their heads bowed.
When they looked up at me entering the room I started, “Is she…” and my father closed his eyes, nodding his head in confirmation of what I already knew. I walked over to the bed, threw my arms around my mother and wept. The flow of tears brought me back into synch with the frenzied world surrounding me. When I finished I sat back, exhaling a long breath, then pulled the protective covering from my head and threw it on the bed.
“I don’t care if I get lice.”
After I spent some time with my family in the room next to the body of my mother, the nurse poked her head in the door and told me there was a visitor for me in the lobby.
“Who the heck would be visiting me here,” I asked the nurse?
“Someone named Shana,” she answered and I remembered she was on her way over when I left and I failed to let her know I was leaving. When she arrived at my house to find me missing, my aunt told her where I had gone and she instantly started the long trip herself in order to be with me. Her arrival was completely unexpected and I rushed up to meet her.
I soon realized that relating the news of my mother’s death was a difficult chore for me. I wanted, prematurely, to move on with life, and every time I told someone that my mom had passed I was forced to cope with the sobering reality. In that hospital entrance, I cried on Shana’s shoulder. Courageously she said nothing knowing any offering of words would sound empty. I am eternally thankful for this.
By the time we got on the freeway to head back home, the snow storm had run its course. The majestic black sky was now clear and calm. The moon and stars were out to dance on the newly coated landscape. Surrounding me in that small car on the freeway was a world rendered the purest white. No blemish shone on the earth’s surface. The thick snow seemed to absorb all the chaos that was present in the storm. The sun was preparing its ascent. There was peace.