Second Night at the Hospital as my Mother Sleeps Restlessly Post-Stroke


Stroke.

Who wants to know this word when it happens to your own mother? A mother who is unstrokable in many ways than one? How does it feel? How did you feel, Ma? Was it all the numbness that fondled your nerves and made you feel absolutely NOTHING? Did you embark upon a new sensation? A new adaptation of near-deaths? Of love unremitting that you are shutting your eyes over the dim light you requested? Of a good to go rumpus that went with turning off the lights altogether to find sleep? Death? Finally? Nothingness?

Was it simply, nothing, Ma?

What is nothing to a woman who has sired six children and stood firmly through years of change, indescribability, destinies reduced to rubble and finally, diabetes? A friend to a foe whose evil amusement radiates through every cake, rice cake, cakes of softened sweetmeats and even Stork menthol candies that accompanied her OBs around Region III, through miles of oculars inspections, through the years of being with COA and travelling almost four times a week. What did you have back then? Who were your friends back then? What were your thoughts back then inside the tin Victory Liner bus when you were in your thirties as you severed through the greens and ocean lines of Zambales and the dunes of Pampanga? Why didn’t you tell me?

Why can’t you tell me now?

Who stole you now, Ma?

You are here, a few breaths away from where my cigarette breath stinks like hell, and I am waiting for you to speak in Waray to cuss and tell me how my breath fucking stinks, and how you can smell it from a distance. I am waiting for you to tell me to quit smoking because it will kill me. I am waiting.

And here I wait.

Waiting for you to return. Probably to stand up from that antiseptic bed to do your pilates.

How long would I have to wait? It has been two nights and three days now that I am in this painful provincial hospital sponge-bathing you, checking your pulse, your medicines, staring at your bulging wrists and your protuberant face, and making sure your charts are unswerving.

I miss you. I really do.

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