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A Lady Laments About... Space
by Jennifer Philo
I got the call Wednesday night. The kids and I just got through with our guerrilla mission; hide in the seven foot high snow banks and welcome Matt home to a hail of snowball fire. While peeling off our winter garb, Matt handed me the phone and I listened to my sister begin her sentence with "Don't freak out..." which is a sure sign that what she's about to say will definitely freak me out. As if her impromptu call wasn't insight enough, into the news I was about to receive. My family is peculiar, we almost have designated times to call one another for just a casual conversation; all other calls were for emergencies only. This was not our typical Saturday morning call, this was Wednesday night.
Within fifteen minutes I was en route to New York; one hour and thirty minutes from my house. My sisters' words kept replaying in my mind "Don't freak out, Moms' in the ER....". No songs can distract you and sway your thoughts. It's as though they embellish the mood by accentuating the situation ("Quit playing games with my heart....damn boy bands). Other drivers become the opposition, blocking you from your goal like they play for the other team. One hour feels like an eternity. These are the times when the space we yearned for in our adolescence becomes public enemy number one. It makes us want to reattach the apron strings we thought we wanted to sever in efforts to establish our own space in this world. My space happened to be over state lines; exactly one hour and thirty minutes away.
My mind wandered back to seven years ago; the night my Mother first encountered Death breathing down her neck. It plays out in my mind like a dramatic re-enactment. Hearing the sound of her retching in her bathroom. The lingering smell of pizza in the kitchen we indulged in only minutes before. Approaching her bathroom to find her pale faced, white lipped, hugging the toilet. It was her lips that stop me. The absence of color evoking panic. She creeps to her bed and lays down "I'm so tired, I need to...". I put my finger to her pulse and find that it is shockingly slow and not at all methodic; almost as though it was tired too and decided it was time to lay down. I tell my father it's time to go to the ER and then proceed to walk my Mother to the car, bucket and towel in hand. Ever grateful we live only moments from the hospital, we arrive, fly through Triage and find out that my Mother, at 48 years old, is having a heart attack.
Driving down Route 4, I remember the moments of being escorted out of her room, the moments where leaving her side could in fact be the last moment I ever got to hold her hand, hear her talk or see her face. The moments to follow are a blur. "she's lucky...it could have been a lot worse...", "it's called a stent.....", "she'll need to change her diet...". All this echoing in my mind as I pull into the parking lot of the Emergency Room.
The space between us is only a state. It's an hour and a half drive on a good day; on a bad day with traffic jams and accidents, a whole lot longer. On this day, the space between us felt like a universe of separation and when I saw Mom in her hospital gown, wires protruding from underneath its sheer fabric I realized that the space we pine for is one heart beat away from too far.