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Honey Nut Cheerios and a Bowl of Sadness
“Your mom is sick.” Those words rang in my head over and over again. They were all I could think about. It was August 10th, 2002 and I was staring at my reflection in the gold ornate mirror hung on the wall of my Nana’s bathroom. It still didn’t make sense, how could she be sick? How did this happen? And why wasn’t I there with her? Instead, I was, three hours on a plane, away from her in Denver, Colorado while she was back in Georgia, on her way to the hospital with my dad and my little brother.
I splashed some cold water on my face and left the room, still in shock. My nana was waiting with open arms ready to talk but I wasn’t ready yet. I quietly went upstairs to my room, slipped into my pajamas listlessly and climbed under the warm covers, the weight of the news on me; all I wanted to do was sleep. But when I turned out the light, I couldn’t, my mind was wide-awake going over the events of the day.
We got the call around 8:45 pm; it was my dad saying that they were taking my mom to the hospital because she had been constantly sick since they returned from dinner. They weren’t sure what was wrong with her. I had all sorts of ideas flying through my head; I kept turning over different possible reasons for why she could be sick. But I wasn’t a doctor and so I truthfully had no idea. Soon I fell asleep, but it was a restless slumber. When I woke up in the morning, I had only gotten a good 2 to 3 hours of sleep at most.
I made my way downstairs and sat down at the kitchen table with a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. As I took my first bite, my Nana came to join me.
She didn’t say anything at first. We just sat silently for a while as I ate. At times I would glance up at her and see her readjusting the place mat so that it lined up with the side of the table or fixing the flowers so that they stuck out just right. Little things that let me know she had something important to say and was trying to find the right time to do it.
Finally she stopped playing with the placemat and looked up at me. The blueness of her eyes bore into me; I could see the tears waiting behind, ready to break free.
“I talked to your dad this morning,” she started, “your mom is going to be staying at the hospital for a little while. She is very sick. They… they”
I just stared right back at her, unable to say anything. She paused, took a deep breath, so deep that the little cross necklace, she always wore moved noticeably deeper into the folds of her skin and then back out. I waited.
“They found that she has cancer, it’s a type called Lymphoma.”
My breath caught in my throat and suddenly I wasn’t hungry anymore. The spoon in my hand fell into the bowl with a loud clash. Cancer had never seemed real to me at 9 and a half years old. I really knew nothing about it, except for the fact that a girl in my grade back at home had her mom die from it just a year ago.
“Kalyn,” My nana said drawing me back into the room, “We’re going to take the next flight to Georgia to go help her, okay?”
The earliest flight out of the Denver International Airport wasn’t until the next day. I spent the rest of the day walking around doing nothing, not able to do anything. When we finally boarded the plane I spent the three hours on there restless to see my mom.
After we landed, we went straight to the hospital. My mom had been put in room 323 on the 4th floor of the huge hospital. As I walked down the hall I stared at the plain white walls, letting my hand run along the smoothness of them. In the children’s ward of the hospital, the only part I had been in before, there were animals and happy people painted on the walls. Here there was nothing and the feeling in the whole floor was off, it made me want to curl into a ball and hide away.
When we finally got to her room, I flung open the door, eager to see her, and not able to contain myself. But once the door was wide open and I could see into the room, I stopped dead in my tracks. There was my lively, always active and ready to go mom, lying in bed, tubes in her arms, looking pale and lifeless. The image shocked me almost as much as the emptiness of the hospital floor.
I didn’t know what to do with myself and was scared to go up and touch her. So I hung back in the doorway, while my nana immediately went up to my mom and gave her a hug, talking to her softly. I eventually sat myself down in a chair by her bed and just stared, I felt that if I touched her, I would break her, so I kept my distance.
We spent the rest of the day at the hospital and I never once broke the barrier between her bed and my chair. I was still too scared. Once night came I was told we were leaving.
“Can I stay?” I asked.
Everyone turned to look at me, shocked since I had kept such distance the whole day. But my dad was the one who came over and put his arm around me.
“Sure, you can.” He said, “I’ll go home and bring back your pjs when I come to check in.”
My dad came back just as he said he would with my pjs in hand.
“Sleep well. Sweetheart.” He said as he kissed lightly on my forehead.
After he had left I lay in the extra bed for guests.
“Kalyn,” I heard my mom say in the silence, “I love you.”
At that moment I couldn’t take it any longer, I needed to touch her. I had missed her so much. I crossed over the space between the beds and laid myself down next to her on the hospital bed and she put her arm around me.
“I love you too mom. “ I said as I snuggled in.
She looked at me, grabbing my small hand in hers and squeezed it slightly. “We’re going to be okay, baby, we’re gonna be okay.”
It’s been seven years now, and I still remember that day. My mom was right, we did end up being okay, she got better and I couldn’t have asked for anything more