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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
I park in my usual spot and walk up to the doors with thoughts of regret. I head for the cafeteria, hoping coffee will give me strength, but all it does is burn my mouth.
They said I could take her out today because she is doing so well. A part of me feels proud, yet another part wails in despair. I wait in the visitors lounge adjusting my scarf in a way I hope she likes, then the guards bring her out and put her across from me. I smile.
“Hey honey, were going to get some ice cream today, would you like that? Ice Cream?” I hate myself for talking to her like a child.
Her eyes painfully look beyond me, into the terrifying world I know her mind lives. She would tell me how where I saw a toaster, she saw a talking death trap, her world was not a safe place.
Oh how I want to help!
Very slowly, she nods and gracefully extends her hand towards mine, I grab it like it’s the only thing holding me to this world. Saying not a word, we both walk out the door. Trying to act normal, I begin discussing my day. I realize how much I miss her as I tell her about my fiancee Thomas, planning the wedding and stepping on gum in my favorite boots. I wonder for a moment if she could make it to our wedding. I imagine her planning my bridal shower, helping me talk about centerpieces and controlling alcoholic Uncle Chris.
I smile for a brief moment, swept up in reverie but then the reality of her situation claims my mind once more. As we enter the car, she promptly plants herself in the passenger seat and searches my glove compartment for sweets. I look at her face. Before, it looked exactly like mine. We would go everywhere together, we could be anything. Her cheeks were rosy and sunburned, her red hair was impossible to control and she was always free.
Now her cheeks are pale and her hair is dead. She will forever be tied down, the voices don’t let her fly;
I refuse to let my pain show and I smile for her as I start the car. She leans her head against the window for support and waves goodbye to her home. The doctors says she’s capable of speech, but I just have to make her talk. Trying to provoke her to open up, I discuss her favorite things, basketball, beaches and anything with Johnny Depp, I laugh when she smiles at his name. We stop at the 31 Flavors and I see hesitation flash in her eyes. I know they are talking to her, but I pray she ignores them. The attendant in the place shoots a questioning look at the state of her hygiene, I flash him one of reassurance.
“Ok honey, 21 flavors and you can pick any! You can have two if you really want!”
She smiles and slowly pursues the tubs. Being one of those people who despises any form of change, I pick the same one I’ve had since childhood. I remember when I was 14 and they ran out of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. I was crying and yelling, so she drove me all the way to 31st Street and bought a whole gallon, drove to the beach and we stayed there all afternoon eating ice cream. Now the women in that memory is as gone, a paper boat floating on an ocean during a tsunami, fighting it’s way to the top but eventually it disappears all together.
Soon she starts smiling at me and pointed to the Orange Sorbet. I ordered two cones and motioned to a table nearby.
“You know Sis, they told me that you don’t like to talk. It would really make my day to hear your voice.”
She reaches out and touches my face.
“Monica, Monica Hurst, 118 Brentwood Place Costa Mesa, California.”
“There we go honey, that’s right, I’m Monica.”
“Hhhhhiiii.” She responds with a stutter, and a smile creeps its way on to my face and I dare to let happiness enter my being.
We sit there for a moment eating our ice cream and when she’s done I watch her head for the door and walk out to my car without a glimpse of hesitation.
I could sense her real self was fighting for control and I would do whatever possible to help. While we’re driving back to the hospital, an idea came to me, and with a smile I turn onto the highway toward the beach. She used to love the beach, I was hoping she would recognize the familiar route. I look over and see her going to town on some of the only hair on her head like it was a steak dinner. The doctor mentioned that would be a sign of the illness and was a coping device for her, to try and banish the voices.
All of a sudden she screams, loudly and I suddenly veered the car. She begins frantically scratching at the window as if her life depended on it.
Quickly I pull the car over and try to calm her but she bats away my hands. She continues waging war on the door and begins hitting herself on the head.
“LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!” She screams frantically, “OUT”
Without hesitation I hop out of the car and I slammed the door behind me. Even though the car was on the side of the highway I couldn’t stay in the car. Like the beginning of a rainstorm, tears began to form on my face and then become impossible to stop. I try to scream but it is caught in my throat and my lungs stop breathing. No. No, no no!
It was happening. I had a permanent front row seat, I watching her tear at the seams and I couldn’t help. I hear the rocking of the car in the background and sigh, what to do? I should call the hospital and get someone down to help me, I could call Thomas and he could help me. Looking at her face I knew what I wanted to do, I want to help her, me and only me.
Without hesitation I sprint back into the car and wrap my arms around my sister. I could feel her arms pushing me away, but they grew tired against me and then she began to cry.
“You know, I’ll be fine Mon, really.” I smile yet again at the sound of her voice, she was back, even if for a minute it was my big sister again.
I drive her back to the hospital, neither of us speak the whole way there. I walk up to the front desk with her and watch as she waves goodbye then walks to her room. The doctor called me over, I find myself preparing for the worst or the best.
“The disease seems to be occupying a large part of her brain. She goes into attacks but there are those moments where she is brighter than even me. Your sister is a complex person, but the psychophrenia is taking over fast. Spend as much time with her as possible, she might not recognize you soon.”
I thanked the doctor and walked out with my head held high. My sister the artist. My sister The Who fan. My sister the jokester. My big sister, the one who was always there for me. My sister the paranoid psychophrenic.
My sister was always there for me, night or day, my whole life. Now it was my turn to take care of her. I grab my phone in p
reparation to call Thomas, I was going to be here when she needed me the most.