I lay awake in bed all last night. Ok, maybe I leveled my Shadow Priest a little bit too. Another bout of stress-induced insomnia? Maybe. Maybe I was just afraid of having a nightmare. Nightmares are funny, at least they’ve been for me, as of late.
In my adult life, my nightmares have consisted mostly of me snapping the headstock on my guitar, missing my credit card bill, or forgetting to move my car for street sweeping. When I was a child, though, they were a tad scarier and a whole lot more morbid. My nightmares were consistently about finding out that my mom had died. Yesterday night around 10pm PST, they came true.
I wasn’t there when it happened. I just heard the frantic beeping of machines as my sister’s voice came through the earpiece: “She’s coding.” As I rushed to the hospital, I tried to remind myself that I had already prepared for this. She’s been hospitalized, on a ventilator, with a feeding tube for the greater part of the past year and a half. I had shed my tears early on. I had come to terms with this long before, so that when the event actually happened, its impact wouldn’t come with such force. You’d figure I would have learned by now, right? I mean I’m an actor. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that you can prep for something all you want – you can rehearse the fuck out of a piece, until you know the placement of every syllable, the timing of every cathartic beat, the ebb and flow of every emotion. But on the day, things are always going to be different. You’ll discover things in the moment that you may have not seen before, and perhaps you could have only discovered them in that precise moment, on that stage, or during that take.
Before I could make it to her hospital room, I was already barely keeping it together. The charge nurse caught me before I walked into the room, and asked, “Did you talk to your sister?”
What she was really saying was, “Do you know what happened? Do you know she passed away.”
“I know,” I croaked, answering her underlying question.
I stepped into the room. The silence was unnerving. Frightening, even. It had been so long since I had seen my mom without hearing the bleep and bloops from the pulse oximeter or the Vaderesque whine of the breathing machine. For the next two hours, I stood there, marveling at the peaceful pallor of her face, the relaxation of the lines that had often been contorted in pain for the past year. The hours passed with barely a notice.
When time came for them to take her away, all I knew is that I wanted to hug her one last time. So I did. I held her as I lay my head on her still chest, as I had oft wanted to in the past year, but never could, for fear of disturbing the array of machinery monitoring and keeping her alive. That didn’t matter anymore, the machines no longer had a job to do. It was just her, free of all the tubes, contacts, and needles. No more intravenous feeds or catheters.
I lay there a long while, holding my mom, like a child whose worst nightmare was coming true.
Part of me has always been a child when it comes to my mom, I feel like it’ll stay that way for sure.
This is my mom. She raised a fool, but like in a good way, I think. Also she raised my sister, who is much normaler and actually gave her a grandchild. Haha. Thanks mom, rest well. Your face. Shirley Raymundo (9/17/1947-4/19/2016)