This was first written September 11, 2007 and posted on myspace.
Fridays always seem like a holiday. The weekend is so close you can smell it. Freedom- from work, from school. Freedom to do whatever you want. In school, kids start bouncing off the walls on Friday afternoons. At work, we start thinking about the weekend by Friday afternoon. Weekend plans, weekend sleeping in, weekend time with family.
Weekends are wearing pajamas all day Sunday, and Friday is almost the weekend.
A few years ago, Friday also meant Happy Hour to me. My best friend Juan and I would email all day long, making our plans, which always started at 5:01 p.m. That was the time when we made ourselves pretty and got ready to flirt with boys downtown after a couple of martinis.
Fridays are different for me now. I don't plan so many Happy Hours these days. I've settled into a happy little life, a happier life than I ever had before. I only flirt with one boy now.
Friday afternoon still feels like a holiday, though. My boss leaves after lunch and my co-worker and I take it easy. We chit-chat about our weekend plans, wrap up our work and clean off our desks. We read the paper, check our emails and start counting down the minutes until the weekend.
No one is in a bad mood on Friday afternoon.
This past Friday was a little different for me. It started out the same as always, but around 11:30 in the morning I got a phone call from my brother Mike. He works technically for the same department as me, but in a building over. We talk on the phone at work now and then, and ocassionally even meet for lunch.
I'm close with my brother, but we are both pretty busy. Both of us have happy little lives.
I wasn't sure why he would be calling this past Friday. We had no lunch plans that I knew of. Mike wasn't calling for chit-chat, though. He simply blurted out his news. Our mother was in an ambulance, on her way to the emergency room at Seton Hospital. The facts were a bit fuzzy- the why's and where's and how's were rather unclear.
I don't remember his exact words.
A general panicky feeling settled over me quickly. I hung up the phone and hurried over to my boss's office to ask her if I could leave. Ask her? Why would I ask her? Her door was shut, though, and she didn't answer. My co-worker told me to just leave, "Just go, Melinda!" So I went. I gathered my things- my bag, phone, keys. On the elevator as I left, I called my boyfriend. I met Mike downstairs and I recognized the same panicky, confused look in his eyes. That must be how I looked.
My father died several years ago- almost twenty now. The unspoken fear of losing my mother too, today on this Friday, silenced both my brother and I. We jumped in his VW bug and he answered some of my questions, the who's and the where's. Mom was at the library, reading emails and talking to her librarian friends when she had a chest pain. The pain was bad enough that an ambulance was summoned. One of the librarians called my brother. We knew no more than that.
We made our way into the emergency room of Seton and gave our sparse information to the desk clerk.
We are looking for our mother. She was brought by ambulance. She was brought in for chest pain. That's all we know. What we don't know is what sort of chest pain. It could be anxiety, indigestion, gas, a heart attack. She could have been stabbed- stabbed in the library! Probably not, though.
No one seemed to know where my mother was. I saw my father's anger in my brother's face. That same anger, directed at dumbasses. Don't they see that we are worried? Does anyone know anything around here?
Then we saw her, wheeled in on a gurney, all hooked up to the machine. She was talking, just as much as ever. There was my mother, making friends again, with her amublance driver.
My brother and I were told to wait, in the room designed for waiting. We sat there with the magazines and the television and the vinyl-seated chairs, and we realized that she was alright. She seemed fine. We didn't see any blood, anyway.
We finally were allowed to see her. She was tired but talkative as ever. They ran lots of tests- her heart seemed fine. I called work and I called my boyfriend. Everyone was relieved that things weren't as dire as I had first thought.
This is what you think, though, when you are called, in the middle of a friday, and told that your mother is in an ambulance, on the way to the hospital. You think the worst. You remember the day your father died, when he was 47 years old. You remember your favorite uncle dying when he was 43. You remember these things and it strikes you that your mother is 62 and perhaps she isn't as invincible as you thought.
I've always thought that my mother would live forever. She has always seemed so strong and healthy. Sometimes she has more energy than I do. At 6am, I can barely pry my eyes open but my mother is as hyper as a monkey. It is hard to see her in a hospital bed, with the machines and the tubes.
The doctors insisted she stay overnight so that they could run some more tests. She didn't put up a fight, but just requested that we pack her a bag with a book and clothes and her toothbrush. The next day my brother and his wife brought her home from the hospital and the day after that my mother flew to Boston to see a friend.
We know this- her heart is fine. It may have simply been anxiety, or even indigestion. She will see her doctor next week to do a stress test. The whole thing tested my brother and I, though we didn't discuss it. We just dealt with it that day. In my family, we laugh when we are worried or stressed. Even in the hospital. And we laughed that day, once we knew that her heart was fine.
I got an email from her today. She told me about the Boston Red Sox game she saw last night, the lobster she ate with her friend and the concert they're going to tonight.
This is my mother. She is invincible.
She retired in April. She was widowed sixteen years ago, at the age of 46. She makes friends with strangers in lines and on airplanes. She goes for daily walks and her favorite beer is Stella Artois. She makes more plans for Happy Hours than I do. She drives me crazy sometimes, as mothers do.
This is my mother.
This picture is from last summer, at the Farmer's Market. She's doing fine now.