Remembering Me?

March 7, 2012
People said it was the dementia talking, that he didn’t really know what he was saying. I, however, believed differently. I wondered what did they think about when they had become so disoriented? The stereotypical hospital linens weren’t soft and I sat on the edge of his bed twisting the ring on my right index finger. To me, it seemed like he knew what he was talking about. This made me think, what did he remember? If the life he had worked so hard to create, the life he experienced so much in; if he suddenly did not know how his life had played out…could there be anything so disappointing?

My eyes moved from the gold stitching on my ring to the fairy dust hanging in the corner of the room. That was simple; the IV dripping into his veins was fairy dust, the monitors recording his heart rate were simply an electronic journal. The tubes that the hospital had hooked him up to were really parts of an electric blanket the hospital staff had meticulously taken apart just to make him warmer. Yes, that was how I viewed hospital instruments; fairy dust, electric journals, and blankets.

It was the Sunday morning that really did me in; Thomas started talking in a mumble. I suspected it was about his late wife, Sarah. There are times when I would have given anything to be inside his head. To really see what he was thinking about seemed like the most profound thing to me.

“Maggie, Maggie!” It was like I was watching myself yell out to her. I knew she could here me, but she simply wasn’t going to come down. This would be the only time I had my car here, we weren’t aloud to keep cars on campus. So naturally, I wanted to impress her and take her for a ride. In my head I saw her sitting shot-gun and flipping through the radio stations, she would be silently impressed with how cool her big brother, a senior, would seem when he drove her around.
My parents had raised me to “take care of her,” but Maggie was more than a handful. She had once put a frog down my pants because I refused to get into the pool, she had super-glued every object in the kitchen to the counter, and dialed 911 when her rabbit was missing. Since our parents always worked, I had become accustomed to taking care of Maggie and her antics.

However, when Maggie came to school her freshmen year, I was no longer equipped to deal with any more of her antics. I tried to ignore the rumors I heard, and I threatened to beat up any guy who went near her. However, her petite body, her blonde hair, and glossy skin only inevitably made her attract attention from almost anyone. She never did come down to see my car, a disappointment to me, but honestly, it was Maggie… so I wasn’t surprised.
When my friend Jake texted me a few weeks later and reported that the newest rumor was that Mags was in the health center, I leisurely strolled across campus assuming that she was being dramatic about a cold or a flu.
I swung the black door to the health center open, and instead of RN’s glancing up form their work; my presence was being completely ignored. The health center staff was scurrying about and shouting over some crying girl. Of course, that crying girl was Maggie.
“Maggie, Maggie, you must calm down, you must breath,” Doc was saying in a rhythmic and steady tone. She only cried louder. It didn’t sound like she was crying from pain; she was just full on screaming.
Screaming the word “No,” over and over again. Again and again I heard the health center staff trying to calm her down. I still wasn’t worried, she sounded a little like a dying bird and I tried to stifle my laugh. It wasn’t until I heard her heaving for air that it became apparent that she was in such a panic, that she couldn’t breath.
“Maggie, Maggie, what’s wrong with Maggie?!” I was screaming too, now. I kept screaming her name, and she kept screaming the word no. I rushed across the room demanding to know what had happened to her, but the nurse simply pressed her finger to her ear and tried to hastily communicate with someone on the other line.
“Get a sedative,” Doc demanded. Now I really started to panic, this was a prep school health center, and they were going to sedate her? There was no talking Maggie out of her panic, I froze and watched her body shake uncontrollably in terror and watched fight for breathes.
“Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” Maggie repeatedly screamed. I saw the nurse come around the corner with the syringe, which mostly contained a sedative.
“Maggie! What’s wrong with Maggie?” I was yelling too. Next thing I knew I watched the nurses pin her back. They were trying to keep her still. The young one in the purple scrubs held onto the right side of her body and the older, less friendly one brusquely held her arm out. She was losing control of her body and mind right in front of me. Every muscle in her body had tensed into tight knots that looked as if they were as firm and rigid as metal. Thrashing every body part, she looked as if she was trying to jump out of her body. I watched helplessly as he pushed down on the syringe. I could only hear her screaming. The nurse ushered me into the waiting room, but all I did was yell for Maggie. A few hours passed in a daze and eventually my parents came through the doors. It was a two-hour drive to school, but suddenly both my parents were here. My Mom had thrown her arms around me and my father was crudely talking to the staff, demanding to know where his daughter was.
“Maggie! Maggie! Where is Maggie?” Thomas asked in a forced whisper. It was hard for him to talk anymore, but still after all this time did he remember taking care of me? I tried to convince him that I, the elderly woman sitting by his bed, was his younger sister, Maggie. Thomas’ eyes had always done me in; they looked the same at this moment. They were eyes of depth, not confusion and I didn’t know if the flicker in his eyes was partial recognition, or simply just there. Thomas didn’t stop asking where I was though, which I reasoned meant that he couldn’t recognize me. However, after all this time, after he had lost the ability to know his surroundings, to recognize his family members, in his head he was still taking care of me.

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