Chapter 2 - Broken
Mum first got sick when I was 19 years old. Jazz and I had just returned from one of our adventures but I couldn’t find mum anywhere. I wandered around the house desperately trying to find her, a yip from Jazz directed me to the back porch where I found mum, she was slumped over and struggling to breathe. A rush of panic hit and I struggled to gain control as I hit the emergency button on the phone. The ambulance arrived shortly after and there was a whirlwind of movement, paramedics rushing around with their beeping machines and Jazz and I standing by helplessly. After they had loaded mum in the ambulance one of the paramedics came over to me and asked if I’d like to come to the hospital. With a shaking voice I replied yes, and she led me to the back passenger seat where I sat quietly.
When we got to the hospital there all I could hear was lots of people rushing around, a sort of organized chaos with sirens and beeping in every direction. I sat frozen to my seat feeling very scared and lost as they wheeled mum out. A while later a nurse came and found me, she led me into the waiting room and promised to update me with any news. She had a soft, pleasant voice and she calmed me with ease. It was a relief to have a friendly nurse on hand to keep me up to date. Sitting in the waiting room was horrible, sick people all around and nosey kids asking what my guide stick was for and then how long I had been blind. I hated crowded public places, especially when I was without my mum.
After a couple of hours the nurse returned and filled me in. Mum had had some kind of heart attack brought on by a lack of oxygen going to her heart. They were doing tests to determine what exactly was going on but suspected there was an issue with her lungs. She showed me to mums bedside and brought me a hot chocolate. I was grateful for her help and the soft reassuring touches she gave kept me calm. I found out later her name was Eve. Throughout the night Eve returned with blankets and she even lent me her iPod. I sat by mum, holding her hand as she slept. Eve told me they had put tubes inside her nose and mouth to help her breathe and the rhythmic sounds of her breathing reassured me that she was okay, for now at least.
In the early hours of the next morning Eve returned once again, this time with the doctors. I was terrified about what I would hear from them, would mum ever be able to breathe on her own again? Eve came and held my hand whilst the doctors explained that they had found several small tumors on mum’s lungs. They were running more tests, but they expected they were likely cancerous and that this was why mum had trouble breathing. I sat there in silence, taking it all in. Cancer? No. Mum couldn’t have cancer. I needed her. She was my rock. Eve squeezed my hand and asked if I was okay. I could do nothing but slowly nod. I needed time to digest. I asked if there was someone who could take me out for fresh air. Eve spoke to the doctors quickly and then replied that it was about to be her break so if I waited a few minutes she would take me. I was happy to know Eve could take me, dealing with a new person was the last thing I wanted to do, and Eve was good at being around me.
After 10 minutes Eve returned and we headed up to the rooftop. I was so glad to get some fresh air and feel the late evening sunshine on me. Eve had brought a sandwich and orange juice for us to share whilst we enjoyed the outdoors. As we ate Eve told me that she’d only recently started working here and that she was fresh out of nursing school. She chose to work in ED because of the rush and excitement, there was always something happening. I was thankful she was happy to fill the silence with her stories so I didn’t have to make conversation. When there was a lull however, I found myself telling her about my mum, and Jazz and what it was like growing up blind. I didn’t usually spill my guts to strangers but something about Eve was so calming, and so familiar. She didn’t ask any rude questions or seem awkward and uncomfortable about me being blind like most people were. It was refreshing.
Eventually it was time for us to return to the ED, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to face the doctors again but I definitely felt more refreshed. When we reached mums bed we were confused to find it empty. Eve went to ask the other nurses about it and I hovered nervously. Had something bad happened while we were gone? Luckily it turned out they had just moved mum to a ward, Eve would show me the way. Once I was settled in next to mum Eve had to get going, and she told me that mum would have a new nurse now. I was sad, Eve had been so great and I felt like we had really bonded on the rooftop. Eve must have seen my frown because she playfully pushed my shoulder and promised she would come find me on her next shift, and if I was lucky, during her breaks. This made me happier and I plugged in her IPod ready to zone out for a few hours.
On mums 5th night in the hospital I met Eve on the roof. Immediately I could sense something was off. Eve was all quiet instead of being her usual bubbly self. We sat in silence for a few minutes before I gently took her hand and asked her what was wrong. She took so long to reply I was beginning to think she hadn’t heard, but then she started to speak. Three patients had arrived, a mother and her two sons. They had been in a house fire. The mother was almost completely covered in burns, her back was especially burned. Her two sons, ages 2 and 4 had much lesser burns, and only to their arms or legs. Eve was attending to the sons when she realised, the mother had thrown herself over her sons to protect them. The mother died shortly after their arrival, her injuries were too severe. Her sons however, were now in a stable and would likely make a full recovery. She sacrificed herself for them.
I heard a small sob, and when I held out my arms Eve fell into them. I stroked her back softly. I had no words. It was such a terrible, yet beautiful tragedy. Eve was a mess, and I whispered to her ‘I know it’s tough, but it goes to show that sometimes the ones we love most will do anything to protect us’. It was then that I suddenly had words. I told her a story, my story. When I was 5 years old we were driving home from my father’s graduation, after 14 years he had finally received his Master’s degree in Wildlife Biology. He was about to start work at a wolf recovery centre. But when we were just a few miles from home a young coyote shot across in front of us, I screamed ‘dad don’t hit it!’ My dad swerved and we missed it, but we were going too fast, he lost control. My mum was screaming, our side of the car was heading straight for a tree. But at the last second my dad managed to turn the car so the impact was head on, his seat took the brunt of the impact. The windscreen shattered.
My dad didn’t survive the impact. Glass embedded into my eyes, I haven’t been able to see a thing since. The last thing I ever remember seeing is my dad looking at my mum with love in his eyes. He did all he could to save us. Eve was silent throughout my story, and when I finished she hugged me tighter and we just sat like that for hours.