And Then She Wasn't There
I hate hospitals. I was about 10 years old when I experienced my first surgical waiting room.
I remember arriving before the sun came up and waiting until the sun had long gone down. The surgeon came out and apologized that it took several hours longer than expected. He had an emergency case he handled beforehand and no one told us. He then said he removed a tumor the size of a basketball ... and one the size of a tennis ball. There was one other that had burst before surgery, but he thought he got all of the cancer out.
We moved back to California for better doctors, better treatment. We spent a lot of time at The City of Hope. I watched her body deteriorate. She became frustrated and didn’t want to see me. The last time I saw her, she was frustrated she couldn’t make it up one step ... and we lived on the fourth floor of an apartment. I remember the day my mom picked me up from school early and I just looked at her and I knew. I didn’t cry then. I couldn’t. I was so angry from the day I found out (at 7 years old) that our family was different and that I had to keep the secret. I blamed her for everything. If only she weren’t there, we could have had a normal life. And then she wasn’t there.
I was the one who had wished it. I was 12 when she was buried. Her dad and her stepmom handled the arrangements. My mom and I sat at the funeral on the side of visitors and friends. I listened to a pastor who had never met her describe the woman who had raised me since birth. Yet me and my mom were NEVER mentioned. I overheard a family member say she got what she deserved for the lifestyle she lived. Her dad came up to the car after the funeral and my mom rolled the window down. He stroked my cheek and said he was sorry. I said nothing.
As we drove away, I finally cried. My soul was ripped apart. For the longest time after, I thought her family had paid her to disappear. She wasn’t really gone. She was living her life somewhere else to make her family happy. But she was gone. I never had the chance to tell her how much she meant to me and how much I loved her. The worst feeling in the world is regret. The worst thing you can do to someone you love is burden them with shame.
Live life out loud. Love without regret.