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Holding It Together

“I told you so.”

Now that I look back, those were probably careless, words that my mother would take to heart, but I was too caught up in my own shock after hearing the news.

My sister was in the hospital because of a brain tumor.
No, it wasn’t cancerous, but it was bad. I didn’t get to see her much and I think that’s how my mom wanted it; she didn’t want me to see my sister in pain, but I was scared for her. Scared because, for once, my mom couldn’t tell me that everything was going to be alright.

The doctors said it was rare. They said that student doctors were going to learn from the surgery. They also said the tumor was half the size of the doctor’s fist.

But even with the all of the mess, I still wondered, why did this have to happen to her? How could we have lived months, maybe even years, with this ‘being’ in our house, unnoticed? At first I was scared, but then I was angry.

I wanted to do something, but I knew I couldn’t. It was as if the doctor was holding his scalpel, and my heart.

I can still remember the day of her first surgery. I remember feeling dizzy as I watched my feet step across the linoleum tiles all the way to my sister’s room. I remember hearing her telling my mom that if the surgery was successful, she wanted a pack of Twizzlers. I remember wanting to cry.

She didn’t get her bag of Twizzlers.

More surgeries lied ahead, but they were only few of the many obstacles to come. The operations had left her with a temporary inability to walk, a strip of missing hair and teary eyes. It was almost as if the tumor had swallowed up half her summer and left her in a cold hospital room.

I think my grandma took it the hardest. My mom would have me stay at her house and at night I thought I could hear her cry. I remember listening to her pace on the floor above me, waiting for more bad news. It was my job to bear it because if I didn’t, I wasn’t quite sure what would happen to us.

But it wasn’t all bad news. My sister was recovering. One last surgery seemed to be successful and my sister was slowly building up the strength to walk, again. Her friends visited often and posters and presents decorated the bland hospital walls. Her birthday was coming and she was set to be home by then.

It was her senior year and we had reached the point where she could lightheartedly take her awful school picture. We could laugh about the lack of preparedness in the birthday present field, due to the fact that she got home from the hospital the day before her birthday. We realized that it seemed as though this tumor had the ability to tear our family apart, yet it only made us stronger.



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