On the Way Down
Hospitals are cold and uninviting, yet we visit them frequently—whether for ourselves or for someone else; we sit there smelling the bland meatloaf and alcohol-based cleaning fluids and for some reason there’s always a hint of broccoli which grosses me out; the smell of fresh flowers meant to cheer up an unsuspecting patient who might be like my grandma—hooked up to some strange beeping machine because they can’t breathe for themselves; the thought of a machine breathing for her suddenly cuts off my own air supply; the hushed whispers around me ring loud and clear in my ears and I try to shut them out because it’s making my head spin, but then I hear my mother cry out like I’ve never heard before which makes everything stop for a split second and then speed up like a race car competing in the Daytona 500; my hands are sweating but the rest of me is freezing, and they’re shaking like I have a mild case of Parkinson’s; between my mind racing and the smell of broccoli, it’s taking everything in my power not to vomit uncontrollably; my chest hurts but I can’t concentrate on that because I’m trying to focus on my own breathing, which is getting harder with each passing minute; the nurse walks in to remove the breathing tube from my grandmother’s dry lips and I catch the sight of her gagging as it’s being pulled out; when I think it can’t get worse, it just did, and now I have to walk away and try to rid myself of that image; my mother is crying in the corner of the waiting room and I can’t go to her because I can’t even breathe myself, so I go into the restroom instead and I sit there and cry myself into oblivion because this woman who I stupidly thought would live forever is now living her last few moments and I’m here in an unwelcoming restroom by myself while my family huddles around her bedside; when I finally catch my breath enough to function I walk back into her room and find my grandfather bending over her, whispering about how much he loves her and dabbing a wet sponge to her lips to give her some comfort and my mom is sitting next to her bed holding her hand that gets colder and colder; she can’t speak but she blinks when we ask her questions and she smiles when I joke about how much she loves me; this fragile, classy woman who has been the backbone for the family is now fading away and we can do nothing to stop it; my mind is still racing as I contemplate the finality of death and how I’ll never hear her voice again and how I won’t ever see her giggle with her whole body and how the loss will affect my grandfather whose heart is breaking; and how this won’t be the last time I’m visited by my new friend I call anxiety.
Bio: Kristin spends her time perfecting the art of sarcasm, binge-watching and concert-going. She is a published poet with a BA in English | Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her passions include reading, writing, music and pop culture. When she’s not living in the pages of books or spending time with her niece, you can find her reviewing TV shows, music and movies on her blog, According to Kristin.
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