Happiness is fleeting. Once it is provided it can only last for so long, and then that happiness will dwindle. It might remain for a little while, giving everyone a delusion of it potentially lasting for an eternal lapse of time. I was never one to believe that it could last forever ( not after the first few times that it hadn’t ) but I also never believed it would all fall to pieces so quickly. That the inner workings of my mind would be tested again, and again by pain, and tragedy. And for the moment…well, I was happy at least. Just a little bit.
Waking up twisted in Eli’s arms I nuzzled closer to him, feeling the warmth that engulfed him. He still struggled with touch, and the cruel memories that had been implanted inside of his head in that asylum, but he also had me now. It had been four days since Walter had beaten us both, and because it was his first infraction he had only received a month in jail. Go figure. I wish he had received more time, but the judge had been lenient.
It was my own fault for never reporting the rape, and having him thrown in jail back then. I kept telling myself that. Eli would always be damaged, and broken because of me. Because of how stupid I was for even remotely trusting Walter again. I could hear his light snores, and I reached down between his legs, feeling his boxers. He was dry. He had been getting better about going to the bathroom, and I would wake him in the night to tell him to get up, and go. Retraining his brain ( in that way at least ) was somewhat simple of a task for me.
“Time to wake up, Eli.” I breathed into his ear, before I kissed his lips ever so softly. He sometimes struggled to remain still when I kissed him, and this morning was no different. It was tiny but I heard his breath hitch in the rear of his throat. His eyes were quick to fly open, and once he realized he was here; with me, he settled.
I knew he still didn’t recall everything that we were to each other, but he was trying to remember everything. Trying to gain back the memories as well as the strength that we had once had when we were together. I wanted to be inside of his mind at times, lingering there in the darkest recesses, but somehow whenever I tried to settle down and listen to the atrocities that my brother had endured, I couldn’t bear it myself. I would stop him, or begin to cry. He knew he could talk to me about anything, but sometimes the pain ran deep.
“Mama.” I jumped slightly as I heard my son’s voice behind me. I turned slowly, to stare over at Gabriel. He was looking at me with his rounded orbs, his pillow gripped in his arms, as though he had forgotten to put it down on the bed before he got up.
“Yes, sweetheart?” I managed to ask, sitting up from my comfortable space alongside my brother.
“Cooper…he’s real sick, Mama.”
That was all I needed to hear, and I was out of the bed, fighting with the covers I nearly tripped myself. Rushing into the bedroom I took a look around. Annabelle was standing next to the bed where Cooper was meant to be sleeping, but he had thrown up all over the floor. It was apparent that my son was very ill. He was holding his stomach, and sobbing, before he would keel back over onto his knees and begin to lose more of the contents of his stomach. Even Biscuit was close to him, refusing to leave his side like the loyal dog he had turned out to be.
“Oh god! Cooper, what hurts? Tell Mama.” I pleaded, my eyes filled with tears.
He was sobbing, and coughing from throwing up. His twin siblings were staring at him in fear, even Hope had sat up in her crib, and was staring at him.
Eli was behind me with his hand on my shoulder as he knelt beside our son. I felt his forehead, and felt that he was burning up. The chemo had been making him ill lately but he had never had anything even remotely close to this.
“We need to get him to the hospital.” I decided, unable to get a coherent answer out of him, he was hurling, and whimpering but that was about the most he would respond to any of my constant string of questions.
“What do you need me to do?” Eli asked, his own face a mask of horror as he moved to stand to his feet as well. The same mask of fear was pictured upon his features, and I stared at him trembling for a few moments, before I began rummaging in my son’s clothes for some clean ones to change him into at the hospital.
“Pick him up. He can’t walk. Take him to the car.” I instructed, and Eli didn’t hesitate.
Whilst he came through on my instructions I gathered together clothes of our own as well as the rest of our children whom were all terrified for Cooper, and attempted to reassure them. I wished just once that someone would reassure me. I headed into my mother’s room, but she had already left for work ( if she even came home at all ) and I decided to shoot her a text, as well as Anna.
After about an hour or so I had gathered everything up, packed everyone into the car, and driven us all to the hospital. Eli, and I had changed quickly into proper clothes in the living room just before we left. I was wringing my hands in the emergency room as I waited, and waited for a doctor to come in.
Once he had, and I gave him the entire run down of my son’s condition as well as the chemo he was taking for his leukemia as well as his past heart troubles it was time to sit around and wait some more. I tried my hardest to keep the other kids occupied and Cooper as comfortable as I could, but he was miserable. Everywhere I touched him he felt some kind of pain because he would pull away from me slightly, and whimper.
For a child that had been in pain through most of his life, and rarely ever complained, I knew that whatever was ailing him must have been horrendous. I myself was inconsolable at this point. I had practically pleaded with the doctor to figure out what had caused him such pain as well as insisting he alert Dr. Misuki.
Even though Eli had lost a portion of himself in that asylum I knew he hadn’t lost the human piece of himself that felt for his own children. Because right here in this moment he looked as though he too was going to be sick. His face was clearly red, and he was clenching his hands into fists, whilst also breathing heavily. He wasn’t fairing any better than I was, and I found myself reaching out to give his arm a few rubs of comfort. Anything to detract from the pain our son was in right in front of me.
I felt so helpless that I couldn’t hold him, without hurting him. I couldn’t even give his hand a squeeze without drawing out more tears. Anna showed up about a half hour after we arrived, and she sat beside me, giving me hugs, and comfort to the best of her abilities. She even gave Eli a few, noticing just how terrified he appeared. Of course he shied from her touch, he still didn’t let anyone else really touch him except me, but I knew he took the sentiment to heart.
The ER doctor took it upon himself to admit Cooper, deciding that he wanted to keep him there for observation as well as run a whole slew of tests on him. It was another two hours before he was finally moved into a private room, and though my mother texted to say she was sorry he was ill she also mentioned that she couldn’t come be with us.
She had to be the most infuriating human being on the Earth. Her own grandson was potentially very ill, and once again she didn’t even give a fuck. I was already on edge because of my nerves, but now I was also irritated by what our mother had done as well. It was well into the night before the doctor returned to the room, and this time he had news about what was troubling Cooper.
Crouched alongside Eli I had almost calmed down over the last few hours, but now my heart was racing again. The other children were sleeping in their chairs, and weren’t even roused by the doctor’s deep voice as he entered the room.
“I am afraid I have some bad news.” I clenched Eli’s hand in my own, almost painfully hard, and he squeezed mine back.
“Just tell me.” I finally ordered him, unable to wait any longer. It was killing me; the waiting.
“I am afraid our treatments for the leukemia have been unsuccessful. But that isn’t the worst of it.” He admitted solemnly.
That wasn’t the worst? What could possibly be worse?! I thought to myself whilst feeling tears rushing to the brims of my eyes. “O-Okay…” My voice cracked.
“I am afraid your son has tumors that have developed in various places on his spine, as well as his neck.” He was speaking slowly, almost as though he feared he could break me, and to be honest he was.
Cooper had finally fallen to sleep on the hospital bed, but even in his sleep he was whimpering slightly from pain.
“How do we…How can you fix him?” I asked slowly beginning to tremble as I spoke the words, trying to hold it together, for the sake of my own sanity.
“He hasn’t responded to any of the Lukemia treatments. We could try a higher dose of Chemo, but I don’t have much hope that it will have the intended effect. As far as the tumors go, I could book him into surgery, and attempt to remove them, but the surgery is highly risky for a patient that is already weakened so severely from chemotherapy treatments. I don’t believe he would make it through such a surgery.” He was trying to let me down easy as though I were merely concerned about a broken arm, but I knew what he was telling me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I stared over at Cooper whom was still sleeping fitfully in his bed, and then over at his siblings whom were sleeping with their heads resting on Cooper’s bedside. Hope was curled alongside him, with her thumb tucked into her mouth.
Could I really force my beloved son to endure another round of chemo that would probably reduce him to a bedridden mess, only to have him die in a surgery that was meant to save him? Could I really be so selfish to force my own child to endure something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
“How long?” I asked, tears spilling down my cheeks as I released Eli’s hand at long last, knowing if I didn’t I would crush his bones. Instead I wiped my tears with my hands. I couldn’t look at Eli. Nor Anna. Both had sat silently through this exchange. Stunned into silence. “How long does he have if left on his own?” I struggled to say those words.
“A few weeks? Maybe less.” The doctor spoke softly. “I can give him strong pain medicine to make him comfortable…but that is all I can do.”
I couldn’t force Coop to endure a life of pain and misery. One that would be perhaps a few months longer if I forced him through horrendous treatments, and selfishly decided to keep him with me. “Can I take him home?” Was all I could manage to ask.
“Of course. I think that would be best for him.” He scribbled on his pad, and tore off the piece, handing over the pain medicine, before leaving the room. Once he was gone I turned my head into Eli’s neck, and collapsed into his arms, and cried.
I don’t know how long I held him sobbing, and crying in his arms. I don’t know who it was ( Anna, or Eli ) that finally managed to soothe me enough to curb my heart-wrenching sobs. I couldn’t breathe however, I was struggling to take in air, and it was then that I woke my children, without meaning to. All of them. Even little Hope was staring at me with wide, terrified eyes as I cried into Eli’s shoulder. I finally managed to pull myself back enough to try to console my now terrified children.
They had never seen me sob like this before. Not a single one of them had any inkling what to do. “Come here, sweethearts.” I managed to speak as my sobs died down. They made no hesitation to crawl into my lap. Cooper was still hooked up to IV’s, otherwise he probably would have as well. Instead he just stared at me with tears of his own in his eyes.
“Mama…I didn’t mean to worry you Mama…I will be just fine…Like always…You’ll see Mama…” Little Cooper spoke softly, trying to smile through the pain like he had in the past, and he didn’t know it, but he had just shattered my heart all over again, and that little piece of control I had slipped back away, and I broke out into sobs anew. Knowing that I was never going to be able to say goodbye to my son.