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Most people remember their successes; they revel in times of achievement, and praise themselves for a job well done. My failures are what stick with me. They are jagged scars running down my heart, shamefully concealed from the judging eyes of others. A bitter permanency burdens by shoulders, and I sigh with bitter contempt.
It was the time of greatest change: autumn, when the leaves were blushing scarlet and the jocular winds were blowing them away. She, flowing tresses and pearly whites, was not laughing airily into the October twilight, devoid of a care in the world. Nor was she smiling away in the insolent way of hers, mocking me with her perfect teeth and perfect hair. No, the fact of the matter was the she could neither smile not laugh, not with those tubes running through her nose, and most certainly not with her eyes rolled back in her head. She was blissfully unconscious, unaware of the itchy hospital gown clinging to her thin body, unaware of the life slowly being sucked out of her by the ventilator perched by her bed. Not so arrogant now, are you. Mum? And yet, that was hardly the most pitiful part.
The most pitiful part would have to be the helpless (hopeless) child peaking though the corner of the door, unabashedly waiting for that knowing grin to return, anticipating the cock-sure stance and that lustrous hare to re-emerge in that lifeless being lying under the sheets. That was me in the fall of 2001, not leaping into stacks of crinkly leaves, not inhaling spicy Massachusetts foliage, not bundled up in layers of turtlenecks and scarves. I was carrying out my punishment, exchanging that one lost hour for an eternity of waiting. She wasn’t in that hospital by chance or accident. Myself, I believe the capacity of those entities is superficial, and I know that she was sick for a reason. I was that reason. The illness came swiftly, and looking back I realize that it wasn’t because she made any bad decisions. It was because I did. I was the one who wanted the baby sister, wasn’t I? I begged, and begged, and when she was finally pregnant, I was overjoyed. But I was lazy. She did too much work, and I didn’t help her.
I did less then what I could’ve, but I kept telling myself, “What difference would folding clothes or doing the dishes have really done for her?” I was lying to myself. On October 14, her body gave out under the stress. Mum collapsed when she was in the kitchenette, and we had to rush her to the hospital. Her body just went limp, and I was seven at the time. My mind went blank, and my body took control. Absentmindedly, I dialed 911. Frozen, I watched them carry her away… When the doctors came out to talk to us, my heart sank. “Her body is exhausted. She carried out a job, housework, and managed a family while she was carrying a baby. Simple over exhaustion. She’s in a sedentary state, and she’s going to be here a while.” And he left.
Sitting alone in that frigid waiting room, waiting for her every single day, gave me time to think. Had I really done my best, had I played my part in this terrible drama? Yes, I was the Evil Daughter (no evil stepmom in this story, just a fragile women fighting for her strength). This relationship wasn’t what it should have been; I carry this baggage with me till today. Not pulling your weight seems like such a trivial offense, but nothing could have been more serious. From that day…I can’t describe how I felt. Every bad thing I had ever done was nothing in comparison, and I vowed to never let this happen again. My mum rests in safer, more cautious hands now…she’s still so breakable, and it’s up to me to be her rock. This episode awakened me, and from that day onward I constantly remind myself that human relationships take more that words and smiles; they take raw, unbridled compassion, and overall a mutual respect that I have now achieved.





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