August 20th, 2012.
The sting of bone on linoleum. I suppose that’s the moment I realized that nothing was ever going to be normal again. I always assumed the idea of actually falling to your knees in grief was a contrived act of attention-seekers, something you did when you knew someone was watching.
On this night, no one was watching. Well, maybe the nurse. Out of the corner of my eye I saw her as she closed the door. She had a look of concerned sympathy, the look of a good person who wants to tell you everything will be ok, but they know it won’t, and a sense of professionalism prevents them from saying anything at all. But they know. Perhaps they’ve gone through it themselves, or maybe it’s just seeing it almost every day at work that gives a learned understanding, kind of a grief by osmosis. How they can sleep at night, I’ll never know.
She closed the door because I had, for lack of a better phrase, finally lost it. It was near 1am, I was about to go home for the night, and I had just finished my now-nightly ritual of taking off Mom’s glasses, cleaning them, and putting them back in their carrier for my Dad to put back on her the next morning. Up to this point, every moment of the last nine days happened so fast, I didn’t have time to fully grasp what was happening, and even if I did, I had things I needed to do for the family. Someone needed to plan, to schedule the flights, to study what exactly this cancer was and what we were dealing with. I’ll never really know if any of that really needed to be done, or it was just my way of coping. But in this instant, I had no distraction. There was nothing in the world except for what I saw right in front of me.