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death burning my nose
The hospital room smelled of sterilized utensils and the smell of death burned my nose .Therefore I couldn’t function properly with the idea of being stuck in St.Luke’s for another four hours after a long day of eight hours previously spent in school. The room was small with only the hospital bed my mama occupied, a portable potty for those who was too weak to use the bathroom only a few feet away, a lounge chair for the restless, and a small chair by her bedside. The television set was showing one of my grandmother‘s and I favorite shows on the AE network 48 hours .I couldn’t hear it though because the hospital staff, my grandma praying ,the machines beeping, and my mama moaning ,stole my focus from the serial killer the Willow Weeper Caller.
Every five minutes my grandma took the nurses out of the room into the wide hallway, to bathe them in questions about why was her only child was in that state of condition. Sadly though they couldn’t lather her up in fake smiles or the reassuring idea that it will be o.k., or even better yet they knew what was wrong with the defeated fragile body sprawled in the bed ,who couldn’t manage to say anything besides “ouch ,mama, Jesus.”
A heavy set nurse came in the room and told my grandma she instilled the right morals in my mama because she only called on her and Jesus. I guess she noticed my nonchalant manner in a time when family should holding each other and caressing the tears off of one another’s cheeks. She told me no matter what my mama did to never show disdain towards my mama because only misery would overbear my heart. She was right because I mostly felt misery in my short lived life, but instead of agreeing I rolled my eyes at her mardi gras beaded Jesus chain. No one could even think of the idea of calling me selfish or cold hearted towards my mother.
The year was in the season of fall, I could memorize it clearly, and I was in fifth grade. We spent the whole month of November in the hospital, and I could remember the constant reminder of pies and food from the family, showing support towards my mama. At the time she was occupying a bed in the ICU at Baptist Hospital within a couple of weeks she managed to acquire two strokes. For weeks my sister, brother, and I busied lounge chairs with games of checker, puzzles, eating small snacks, and falling asleep on each other. The doctor said at the time she wasn’t in the state a ten-year-old, seven-year-old, and a five-year-old should see.
After time past and her health seemed to improve, the doctor permitted my grandma to let me see her. He led me down a narrow passage, where there were a lot of hallway signs with names such as DuPont and Childress Wing rooms with the numbers located underneath. It seemed like a long walk but in reality it only took approximately two minutes to get there. The room was dark lit with candles, a lot of get well soon cards and other favorite Hallmark greetings were bestowed upon the room.
My great grandma Mae Pearl was straightening her balloons and roses around, while my grandma Martha Ann and Lisa was talking. My mama was sitting in a small chair her frail frame hanging loosely at the end of the chair. The nightgown was slacked upon her thin limbs, although it was made for a young child. I was leaning in the doorway hoping that my eyes wouldn’t lay on her again because I could feel the burning of tears approaching. I hated to cry and my family seldom showed signs of breaking down. I tried to be strong, but found myself defeated when my mama turned around with the hair cap tightening her forehead, asked my grandma who was I.
I forgot about my families long history of holding together when things couldn’t get any worse, I ran out the room. I knew the janitors would have a hard time mopping up all the tears I left behind. She soon afterwards became healed even though she never seemed to learn how to read or write efficient as before, or even understand anything with numbers besides money. She was alive though and survived what most couldn’t in a lifetime.
When I was thirteen and fourteen I had two dreams that she was going to die early and as I wrote the beginning I thought of one of my classmates memory of her mother’s death, and I couldn’t help but think if I become a example of her. I felt horrible for thinking of those horrible thoughts and the dreams I had over two years ago. I stroked my bracelet my grandma brought for me from a gift shop and prayed for God to delay her death .I then thought about this and confirmed with him if it was time for her, to leave he could take her if it needed to be.
She died March 21st exactly two days after my younger brother birthday. I thought of how I was going to explain to my child that his grandmother died months before he was born. How dare she leave me at a time when I needed so much guidance and reassurance that things were going to be fine? My selfish thoughts were replaced with peaceful ones as I thought of the last days she were here, and how she no longer suffered and how beautiful she looked.
March 27, 2009 on Friday our family stood in tow lines waiting the arrival of my mother’s home going. I felt like John Coffey when he took the green mile, a short walk but such a spiritual moment. As I sat on the pew of Mount Bethel Church my family’s history rushed through my memory. I never appreciated the good and the bad that came along with her, until that moment.
We all have appointments in life maybe for a doctor’s appointment, the due date of an assignment, or maybe even a meeting, but one thing we can’t ever prolong or change is our time of birth or death. I thought of this as I thought of the many times I couldn’t understand how she escaped the Grim Reaper. At the end of service when we released the dove I felt some sort of refinement because I know she’s in a better place.