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For as long as I could remember, I hated my mother. Don’t get me wrong –– it’s not like I wished that she would blow up to millions of pieces and I was to roast them in the oven. But I did hate her enough that if she died, I wouldn’t have cared.
She knew I hated her, and she was fine with it, because she was not so fond of me either. Together in our house, we kept to ourselves and life was bearable. I was my mother’s oldest child, but she always loved Rosemary, not me. For some reason, my mom always expected me to be like my younger sister ––– younger ––– because she was so beautiful and so talented and so sweet...what a load of c***. Rosemary was nothing but an air headed stuck up who cares for no one but her self. You’d think that a ten-year old girl is mature enough to think about others and be more reasonable in requests, but Rosemary was always the exception. Just like how she was an “exception” when I told my mom that she was supposed to go to bed at nine because that’s when I went to bed when I was ten. Rosemary always got what she wanted, whether it was toys, hairclips, or clothes...what Rosie wanted, she always got it. I don’t know if my parents knew this, but by spoiling her they are ruining her. Did they expect that she would stay home forever and be their little princess? Or did they know that she would never be smart enough to get past high school?
Not only did my mother adore Rosemary, my father did not fall short of this creepy, biased love. But he was better, at least he respects me and my opinions, for I was the oldest, and if I may say so myself, I was pretty rational. He acknowledged me, which made me feel very important. And I did not feel important a lot around the house. My dad was totally the protective father type. He always made sure who Rosemary talked to ––– if there were any boys in the picture. I told him that she was too young, but he told me that the boys might increase their rate in reaching puberty just because Rosemary was so stunning. I wondered if he realized what c*** he just uttered. No one in the house cared for me; they were all too focused on Rosemary.
Things quickly changed when my mom got sick. All of the sudden, everyone’s eyes were on her, well, my eyes were sort of on her. Rosemary still got, if you ask me, too much attention, but not as much as before my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I’ve always seen the ads and commercials about breast cancer, but I was never directly connected to a victim. I never imagined that my own mother would be one. She checked in the hospital after her last doctor’s check up. The family went to visit her three times a week, at least. I was forced to go. But I didn’t see what the use was; my mom probably didn’t even know that I was there. All she did was ask how Rosemary was doing with school, and such, and then ask dad to flower the plants. She didn’t look she was carrying a deadly virus in her, except that she was paler and her golden hair was not as thick as before.
One Friday when Dad had to work overtime and Rosemary was at her friend’s birthday party, I was obliged to go to the hospital by myself. The hospital smelled like usual. I didn’t like hospitals, not just because I was paranoid about diseases. But because I didn’t like the squeaky cleanliness of everything inside them, I didn’t like that they seemed like death domes.
I entered my mother’s room and placed the flowers dad had bought in the vase. She was asleep so I sat on the chair beside her and read the magazines. After a few minutes I got bored so I put down the magazine and looked out the window. Even though that the hospital itself was not welcoming, the field behind it was bright with sunshine and green with the perfectly mowed grass.
“Roberta,” My mom’s voice called behind me and I turned around. She just woke up and looked tired. Sometimes her condition was good enough that she could go outside for a jog, and sometimes she was so sick she could hardly move. I supposed this was one of the bad days. I walked toward the cooling machine to get her a cup of water.
“Where’re your dad and Rosemary?” She asked.
“Dad’s working overtime and Rosemary’s at a party,” I replied and handed her the cup.
“How is she?”
“Okay, I guess. She doesn’t know what you have...she just thinks you have a really bad cold.” Mom laughed so bitterly chills went down my spine. I stared at her strangely and then looked down. I wanted so bad to go home and watch Law & Order.
“The doctor checked me this morning...things are not going well.”
Yeah...?” I said and could not help but look up. I did not feel especially worried or anything, just slightly interested.
“Yeah. Don’t’ tell dad or Rosemary, ‘kay?” I nodded. She was just telling me all these because she knew I would never worry. And I didn’t.
Dad and Rosemary didn’t go visit mom as much anymore. Dad was too busy with work and Rosemary just didn’t care. Like I said, she didn’t care about anyone except herself, even if her mother was in a fatal condition. Rosemary hardly even asked me about mom, like she totally forgot about the person who gave her so much love. I was the only one to continue to go to the hospital; I had nothing better to do. I think mom needed someone to talk to about stuff. She had never been an independent person before, and I guess being sick makes loneliness twice as hard for her. Once, she even told me that she wished she was as strong as me. I think that was the first time she actually praised me. For the last few weeks, she has talked to me more than she has ever had in our lives. It was weird, because I didn’t really care ––– I still hated her––– but I listened attentively and remembered the conversations at least until I went to bed. My mom always ignored me before she got sick, she eve tried to make up excuses not to talk to me...I could see now that knowing your death can really change a person.
One afternoon when I was doing my homework on the dining table I saw Rosemary drawing something that looked like a card. I though it was for mom so I asked her.
“No, it’s for my friend. She has the chicken pox.” She replied.
“Why don’t you make one for mom?” I asked.
“No, she just has the cold.” I almost laughed.
“How did you know she only had a cold?”
“What else did she get? It’s not chicken pox because she doesn’t have any red spots on her.”
“Maybe it’s something else.”
Rosemary looked up and said with an “in your face” tone, “Don’t’ be stupid, there is nothing else.”
I hated when people, especially people like Rosemary, call me stupid. She didn’t know anything about anything, what did she know? The heat built up inside me and I said angrily, but steadily, “You’re stupid, mom has cancer.”
Obviously she didn’t know what it was. How could she not know what cancer was? I knew what cancer was when I was eight. But I didn’t bother to explain what it was to her. How was a ten-year-old supposed to comprehend biological information like how cells develop and how they get out of control? I went back to my math homework and she said, “There’s no such thing as cancer, don’t lie.”
“Of course there is.”
“No, there isn’t.”
“Listen! Just because you don’t know it doesn’t mean I don’t know it.”
The front door opened and dad’s footsteps came into hearing. Rosemary quickly ran to the door and he gave her a good squeeze.
“Daddy, “she whined, “Roberta said mommy has cancer. Tell her that there is no such thing as cancer.”
Dad stared at me with a frightening seriousness, and then he smiled and told Rosemary to get ready because he was going to take her out to see a movie. Without hesitating, she skipped upstairs.
“Did you have to say that?” He said sternly as soon he heard Rosemary’s room door close.