Chapter 24 | And I'll Cry if I Want to
| Mark’s POV |
“Come on, John, we need to finish this project today.” I sigh, glancing over my final notes from class.
“It’s Johnny, and I told you, we’ll finish in time for your precious party.” He rolls his eyes, while starting to annoy me.
“If I don’t make it to Naveah’s in an hour, she’ll kill me.” I press.
“All we have to figure out is the explanation for this last chemical structure and we’ll be done, alright?” He says while flipping through is notes.
We have papers spewed all around us, not to mention about two or three different textbooks.
After numerous arguments and a lot of research later, we finally come up with the answer to our last problem in regards to our project for Chemistry.
“Finally!” I gasp, my stress finally starting to lower.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ll meet you in class on Monday so we can turn this in together. Go have fun at your party, wouldn’t want to upset the Mrs.” Johnny laughs while closing up his textbook.
I shove my things into my bag and wave goodbye, before rushing out of his dorm room and sprinting toward the campus parking lot. If I leave right now, I can make it to Naveah in about fifteen minutes, maybe even sooner, depending on traffic.
As soon as I start driving down the road, my cell phone rings.
“Good evening, is this a Mr. Mark Chase?” An older man asks over the phone.
“It is, may I ask who’s calling at this hour?” I question, trying my best to sound somewhat professional.
“My name is doctor Arnold Bennett, and I work here at the rehab facility just outside of town. Your mother, Ms. Chase, has been having a rather difficult week.” He explains.
“What happened? Why are you just now calling?” I question again, pulling over to the side of the road so I can concentrate on the conversation.
“Right, well, we’ve been able to keep her stable, but despite our best efforts your mother has ended up in the hospital.” Dr. Bennett explains.
My stomach drops. “W-What do you mean? When did she go to the hospital? Why didn’t anyone call me before this happened? Why hasn’t anyone tried to get into contact with me?”
“I understand your frustrations, as I too was told you were being kept in the loop with all of this. Apparently there was a registration error, and the receptionist has been leaving voicemails to the wrong phone number. We were able to get your correct phone number from your mother’s personal contact book she keeps in her desk here at the facility.” Dr. Bennett says apologetically, “The receptionist must have assumed you didn’t call back, because you simply didn’t have the time. We know you are a college student and have a rather busy schedule.”
“So what happens now? Why is she in the hospital? Is it serious?” I rattle off more questions, not even truly processing all of the information.
“Well, this is why I am calling you personally. Things don’t look good right now, we need you to come to the hospital in order to discuss treatment plans and how to go about this delicately. We want your input and to keep you in the loop as much as possible. Are you able to drive out here tonight?” He asks, putting me in a horrible situation.
I can’t just go to Naveah’s birthday party and act like everything is fine. My mother is in the hospital and needs me. I don’t want to call Naveah and ruin her birthday party, I’m sure she’s having an amazing night.
“Hello? Mr. Chase? Are you still there?”
“Y-Yes, I’m here. I’m on my way, I just need to pack a bag.” I tell Dr. Bennett. He gives me the address to the hospital, so I plug it into my GPS. I turn around and go back to campus, rushing into my dorm room to back an overnight bag. In my rush to head to the hospital, I forget to grab my phone charger.
Once I’m back into my car, I toss my phone into my bag, forgetting that I had it on vibrate. I don’t think twice when I press start on my GPS and head out of town to the hospital, blaring music along the way.
About an hour and a half later, I’m almost to the hospital. I stop to grab a bite to eat, mostly because I’m starving, but also to maybe help calm my nerves. I have no idea what the doctor is going to tell me, and my mind is already spiraling toward the worst case scenario.
As much crap as my mom has put me through over the years, I still can’t even begin to imagine a life without her. My father was never a father to me, so my mom has been the only person that I have had while growing up. None of my distant relatives ever reach out to us. It’s always been just the two of us.
After I eat, I finally make it to the hospital. I park my car and grab my bag, getting out to head inside. I’m instantly met with the smell of disinfectant, as I walk up to the receptionist desk.
“Good evening, how may I assist you?” An older, monotone woman greets upon seeing me.
“Hi, I’m looking for my mom, last name Chase. I think she was brought in earlier today, I was called and told to come here.” I explain as calmly as I can.
“Just one second, let me look that up for you.” The woman smiles.
A few moments later, she looks up at me, “She’s set up in the ICU. She’s awake and responsive, but very weak right now. She’s in room 803, up the elevator two floors, and then turn right. The doctor should be in shortly to update you on her diagnosis.” The woman says with an apologetic face.
Diagnosis? ICU? It definitely must be something serious.
“Thank you.” I try my best to smile, before turning and heading toward the elevator. The ride two floors up, felt as if it lasted an eternity. What if she’s dying? What am I supposed to do?
Once I make it to the floor, I turn right and follow the room numbers until I reach 803.
I stand outside the door, trying to take in a few deep breaths before I walk inside. I have no idea what I’m walking in on, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to say to her.
Just as I’m about to walk inside, a large man in a white coat walks up beside me.
“Trying to find the courage?” He turns to me.
I glance at his green eyes and nod, my expression stoic.
“You must be Mark.” He gives me a soft smile.
“And you are?” I raise an eyebrow defensively.
“I’m Dr. Bennett. I work at the rehab facility where your mom stays, but I’m also an on-call doctor here at the hospital. I believe we spoke on the phone earlier today. I’m the one who brought your mother here and has been helping to treat her.” He reaches out to shake my hand.
I eye him, but eventually lift my arm to return the gesture.
“Thank you for calling me, not that your office did a very good job at that.” I immediately criticize.
“Again, I sincerely apologize for that. We try to keep our office as updated and accurate as possible, but sometimes errors do occur. No office is perfect.” He says with a slight shake of his head.
“What’s happening to her?” I ask after a couple seconds of silence.
I hear Dr. Bennett let out a quiet sigh, almost as if he’s dreading having to give me the news. I take in a quick breath, to brace myself for the impact of his words.
“Mark, your mother is in liver failure, and it’s end stage. We’ve placed her on the emergency donor list, but we haven’t been able to get any donors as of yet. We are keeping her comfortable, and stable, but-“ That’s the last thing I hear before my mind goes blank, and I can’t hear anything.
My body goes numb, a feeling I’ve never felt before in my entire life. What is this feeling? Why is it so intense? I’ve resented my mother for the better part of my life, and now all I want to do is hug her and tell her I love her and that she’s the best mom in the world.
I think about all of the things she’s put me through over the years, but now none of that matters anymore. It’s all irrelevant. The fact is, my mother is dying, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
“-However it is possible that you could be a potential match, though it isn’t one-hundred percent guaranteed.”
I just barely catch the last part of what Dr. Bennett said, my eyes snapping to meet his.
“What? I could be a donor? How would that work? Can we do it now?” I immediately fire out questions at him, causing his eyes to widen a little.
“We would have to run a blood test to make sure you’re a match.” Dr. Bennett explains.
“I’m her son, shouldn’t I automatically be a match?” I glare at him, squeezing my hands into fists.
“One would believe so, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes blood relatives can come back as not a match for donation. If you’re not a match, and we try to do a transplant, she would ultimately reject the donation and then be back to square one. Which also means you would lose half of your liver in the process as we wouldn’t be able to put it back.”
“That’s insane! Who came up with that rule? How could I not be a match when I was created from her? I lived inside of her stomach for 9 months, which should automatically mean that I’m a match!” I rant, yelling at the universe more so than Dr. Bennett.
“I understand that it doesn’t make sense, believe me, it frustrates me too. Unfortunately it’s the reality we live in. All we can do right now, is start with the blood test, and go from there. If you are a match, and you want to donate a portion of your liver to your mother, then we can discuss treatment plans and surgery plans later.” Dr. Bennett calmly explains. “In the meantime, just go and be with her. She’s been asking for you.”
I glance up at Dr. Bennett again, the feeling of my heart breaking slow and intense.
I shake my head, looking back down at my feet with a frown, “I don’t think I can go in there.”
After a few seconds, I feel a hand rest on my shoulder. “I know you can.”
I nod slowly, preparing to open her hospital room door, and walk inside. I still have absolutely no idea what I’m going to say to her, but I know I need to go inside eventually.
Dr. Bennett removes his hand from my shoulder, “I’ll give you a few minutes alone with her before I come inside to run more tests.”
Just as Dr. Bennett is about to turn away, I stop him. “Thank you.”
“Don’t thank me,” he shakes his head, “Just let me know if you need anything while you’re here.”
I nod a thank you with a smile, before turning to look at the wooden door again. I slowly push open the handle, carefully walking inside just in case she’s asleep.
I hear movement, and glance at the bed, my mom slowly stirring in her sleep.
“Can’t a woman get just five minutes of sleep before you come in here to mess with me?” She asks, clearly annoyed, as I find myself chuckling.
“Hello to you too, ma.”
Her eyes instantly pop open, her hand going for the side of the bed to sit herself upright.
“Mark? When did you get here?”
“About twenty minutes ago. I was outside talking a little bit with Dr. Bennett.” I admit, walking over to sit in the chair beside her bed. She instantly reaches her hand out to me, and I find myself instantly reaching out to embrace her in a hug instead.
“I am so sorry, Mark, this is all my fault. I’ve drunk myself into an early grave.” She sobs against my shoulder as I hug her tight.
“Don’t say that, there’s still time to fix this.” I say with finality, “I can donate you a part of my liver and you’ll have way more time.”
My mom immediately shakes her head, “No, I don’t want you to donate anything to me. I’m not going to force you to go through a risky surgery, and not to mention having to be careful for the rest of your life, just to give me a few more years. I won’t let you do it.”
“Fuck that mom! I’m not just going to stand by and watch you die!” I end up shouting, causing her to jump a little from my harsh voice.
“Mark, please, I’m not going to do this to you, I’ve already done enough damage!” My mom pleads, reaching for my hand as I stand up.
I angrily yank my hand away, stepping beside her bed. “You’re ready to give up? You’re ready to just die and leave me here all alone? Haven’t you left me enough as a child? What about all those nights I stayed home by myself, having to cook my own dinners, having to wash my own clothes because you weren’t around? How many times have I had to stay up late, calling bar after bar just to find you? And now that you’re finally willing to work the program at your rehab center, this happens and you’re just willing to die? To leave me all alone again?”
I’m shouting by the time I’m finished with my rant, tears clouding my vision as I stare directly into my mother’s eyes.
I’ve never seen the current look on my mother’s face before. Not in my entire existence.
She’s horrified. She’s disgusted. She’s everything.
Her eyes lower as she hangs her head, her hands coming up to cover her eyes while she sobs into them.
She’s crying, I’m crying, we’re a real mess.
“Mom…” I sigh, sitting back down in the chair and leaning over toward her. I slowly reach up and grab her hands, gently pulling them from her face. She glances up at me, her eyes flooded with fresh tears.
“You can’t give up on me.” I finally say with an immense feeling of vulnerability in my words. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been this vulnerable in my entire life.
“Please.” I beg after moments of silence.
My mom continues to look into my eyes as hot tears fall from my face. “I need you.”
After a while she nods. “Okay Mark, I won’t give up, I promise.” She finally agrees with a sad smile. “I’m going to fight. I’m going to fight for you.”
My eyes widen as a smile takes over my face. “You gotta fight for you too, ma. You gotta want to live just as much as I want you to live.”
“Okay Mark,” She nods, “I will.”
I hug my mom again as more stray tears fall from my eyes.
I can’t believe this is happening to us, but I know that we can get through this together. She’s got me, and I’ve got her. Our relationship has always been strained and destructive, but I truly believe that we can reconcile to the best of our abilities, to rebuild something worth having again. I’m not giving up on her yet.
“I’ll be right back, I’m going to go get some coffee. Do you need me to bring you anything?” I ask her as we pull away from each other.
“No thank you, I’m fine sweetie.” She smiles weakly.
She looks so tired.
As I step out of the room, and begin my journey to find the cafeteria, I see a woman being pushed out to the parking lot in a wheelchair. She’s got a new bundle of joy in her hands as her husband walks beside her, a happy birthday balloon in hand.
I smile as I pass by them, until it finally dawns on me.
Happy birthday. My eyes widen in realization as I curse myself.