Ice chips.

I gasp from a night’s fog.
Ghosts came home with me from the 9th floor.

Ice chips.
None of the nurses said anything to me 
whenever I entered the employee only pantry 
with a styrofoam cup to get

ice chips.

Unstrapping the bi-pap mask feels like
apologizing for plunging my mother’s head into water.
If we’re lucky,
I can slip a third ice chip into her mouth before
I re-strap what must feel like a bear trap 
of air wrapped around her head.

She points out the window.
She flicks invisible shackles 
off her legs before trying to swing them over the side of the bed.

I ask her where she’s going every time,
knowing that she can’t answer until
finally 
I ask:
“Do you want to go home? Is that where you’re trying to go?”

She nods yes —
delirious.

I clutch my heart,
clutch her hand
and, tell her,
“Yes, you can go home if you want. Don’t worry about me and daddy. We will meet you there.”

Every hour I flinch now.
Ice chips.
Bed up.
Bed down.

Mama there’s nothing behind the curtains what are you pointing at oh my God.
Whatever ghosts were at her bedside followed me, 
and jolt me awake as my leaden body 
moves to get 

ice chips.
Except I’m already home.
Without her.

I wrote this is in December 2018 when my mother was rushed to the ER, and she spent one night admitted on a regular hospital floor until her ICU admission the following morning. Only one person was allowed to stay with her. No one else volunteered. I wasn’t going to leave her alone.

I didn’t sleep that night. Was not at all prepared physically or mentally. Every time I was about to drift off, I jolted awake for one reason or another.

Oxygen deprivation makes you hallucinate. So does sleep deprivation.

It was traumatic. No one else, but my therapist, know the details of that night. I had nightmares about it after where I’d wake up in my own bed, and swear I was still in the hospital, already halfway up to get my mom some ice, or fix her blankets, or move her bed, or keep her from trying to leave the bed, or or or or…

I know it’d hurt her to know how much pain this memory caused me. And at the same time, I would do it all over again. When faced with the hard stuff, you see just how much effort people are willing to put in. In the months leading up to her passing, I did the hard stuff when no one else was willing.

Why? Because I was an asthmatic, hard of hearing, anemic, colic, preemie, and my mother took care of me all her life. Surgeries. Hospital admissions. Doctor’s appointments. Chicken pox – twice! Cracked my skull open once. Ear infections so bad, I would literally scream like someone was stabbing knives in my ears. I remember her breaking nights to slip the nebulizer mask over my face or to give me some nasty medicine. Even after I was an adult, and lived on my own, sometimes if I had a doctor’s appointment, she’d go with me just because. And when she got cancer, I tried to return the favor. My efforts definitely pale in comparison compared to the years she put into me, but I still did it because I loved my mama.

And while the pain has… become more of a scar that aches really bad on some days. A limb I was forced to live without, but life has never the same. I don’t regret being there for her. I’d do it again.


WattPad Link: https://www.wattpad.com/1240795162-a-votive-that-has-un-mothered-ice-chips

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