"So she was put in this big room with a few other patients, and like a nurse always in the room."
Yeah, I thought. I know that room. "Uh huh," I said.
"And I guess because there is no night or day or whatever, people go a little crazy. So she went crazy, my mother-in-law! She called in the middle of the night and said into the phone, 'this is it. I am calling to give my last will and testement.' She thought she was dying!"
My friend was smiling. Like, isn't that the funniest thing ever? I pushed my plate away.
"So we all rushed to the hospital! It was like 2 in the morning, and we ran down the hallway and--"
"I need the bathroom," I said. And I was only halfway out the door before the Ugly tears came.
She didn't mean it. No one means it. It's me, not you, and I know that. And sometimes it's fine, you can talk to me about the shiva call you paid or your grandfather who is doing poorly. And sometimes all you have to mention is the dead cat you found in your yard and I see it all again. I see the line on the moniter going flat. I see his skin turning yellow, so quickly, I didn't know it happens so quickly. How they left the respirator on for what felt like forever and so his chest was still going up and down even though he was gone. And my mother rushed in and started talking to him, quickly, desperately, and then her phone rang and it was my brother, and she said, "No, run, you can still make it, he is still here--"
And I blurted out--"No,Ima, no! Didn't they tell you? He's gone!"
And she looked at me, her eyes went round and her face went slack and she crumpled and I grabbed for her.
And misaskim called and I left my mother with my sister and went out because I couldn't hear them and I had to tell them what we needed, chairs and cloths for the mirrors, and where we lived, and my brother came barelling down the hallway and I had to tell him too, no, no, he's gone.
He's gone. But nothing else changed. Cats also die and mothers-in-law can also go to the hospital and I can cook shabbas and laugh on the phone with a friend. I still get overwhelmed with weeks like this one, when I bit off a little more than I can chew, and the kids stay up too late.
Nothing changed and everything changed all at once, and sometimes I can lay out clothing for the kids and then sometimes my mind goes, he died right before my eyes. And I can write and say inspiring things about him, and I can be so grateful for the time I had with him, and still--sometimes--all I can think is having to be the one to tell my mother. Of my brother, his cheeks red, running down the hallway and meeting me coming out the door while I was on the phone with misaskim. "Did I miss it? Is he still here?" he said.
He's gone, I said.
Oh G-d. Oh G-d. My father is gone.