Chapter 45 – When life proves to be unfair
I’m in New York. I’ve been here since the week after graduation. Kim comes to town every weekend to visit me and we hang out. I’ve also been in Minnesota and Cleveland because mom wanted options.
In the end, mom decided New York would do.
I live in the pediatric section on the hospital and they just visit me there. I’ve come to like hospitals not very much but I am coping with it. Sometimes it’s thrilling to see the ER. It’s not that lonely anymore, I made friends with the other patients, nurses and doctors.
It would do me good if I’m friendly with everyone, that’s what Sin from next door told me before he left. Be friendly especially with the nurses, they bring the food after all and they might bring extra pudding.
Strange as it is, I find myself loving this family and I’m not lonely here even when I sometimes don’t get visitors. Mom is busy and Kim only comes in the weekend because of school.
I’m not getting better actually, I overheard mom and the doctors discussing the next course of action if the medications won’t help. Surgery is an open option and also an L-vat.
I don’t want a heart surgery, I told that to my mom. I don’t want a heart transplant if need to be. I just don’t want to undergo surgery whatever it would be. I know once I’m lying in that operating table, I’d die.
Not that I don’t want to die, I do. I’m ready for it but not in an operating table. It’s messy and I want to die peacefully.
“Hey Kelly.” I call over the seven year old girl in the wheelchair.
She looks up and smiles widely at me. I feel a twinge of envy and sympathy. How can she smile so genuinely when she’s dying? When everything that they do to her is painful? Kelly has a brain tumor, chemo is her only option for now because of the size of it.
She’s always smiling and laughing even when everything in the world is wrong. The pediatric section showed me how unfair life is. There are so many kids here with life threatening illness.
You’d think the place would be gloomy but it’s not, the kids are fine they try to be. Kelly is a breath of fresh air. She’s always cheerful.
“Hi.” Her voice was low. “Can you take me to the cafeteria? I want a cupcake.” She asks me.
I kneel down and smile at her. “Are you sure you’re allowed to eat cupcakes? I don’t want to be in trouble especially with Nurse Mila.”
She giggles and then coughs. I quickly stand up and pat her back. “That’ll be a no.” I tell her. I go in her back and push her wheelchair around the hall.
“I have surgery tomorrow.” She says.
I halt. So it’s true that she’s going to have surgery. I heard about it and I pray to God it isn’t true. Not that I don’t want Kelly to be better because I do but I’m afraid for her.
I feel her cold hand in my hand. “It’s gonna be okay.”
I smile ruefully. Kelly’s comforting me when I should be the one who tells her it’s going to be okay. “Of course it is.” I croaked. “I heard you can’t eat the day before your surgery somewhere so you can’t eat cupcake today maybe after the surgery.” I tell her.
She tries to laugh again but she just coughs. “I don’t want to eat it.” She squeaks.
“So what are you going to do at it?”
“Smell it and keep it so I can have it after my surgery.”
Just when I’m about to turn to the corner, Kim shows up and I stop. He smiles at me then looks down at Kelly to smile. “Hello Kelly.” He greets her, he kneels down in front of her “I hear about your big surgery tomorrow so I brought treats.” He waves the plastic bag he’s holding.
Kelly smiles and squeals. “Thank you Ian.” She says as she looks at the contents of the plastic bag.
Kim looks up to me and smiles again but I could see he too is worried for tomorrow. I smile at him silently thanking him for the treats he brought for Kelly.
We go our way back to Kelly’s room with Kim pushing the wheelchair and I walking by his side.
We hang out until Nurse Mila comes in and tells me that I have to be in my room for the rounds. I sigh and kiss Kelly in the head before heading back to my own room.
Half an hour before the end of visiting hours, Kim comes in my room and sits on the chair beside my bed.
He takes my hand and holds it. “She’s strong. You don’t have to worry.”
I nod and I rest my head back to the pillow. I close my eyes and I don’t let go of Kim’s hand. “I wish I’m strong just like her.” I whisper.
No I’m not. But I don’t argue because I’m tired.
The next morning, Kim’s already here and he helps me stand and go to Kelly’s room. We go there and we see that they’re prepping her for her big surgery today.
I go in first and when Kelly notices me, she smiles. I look around the room and see Mr. and Mrs. Taylor standing in the side of the room. I smile at them then at Kelly. “Hey superstar.”
I wait until they’re bringing her to the OR, they’re pushing her out of the room when they stop in front of me. Kelly holds out her hand and I take it. I squeeze it. “Come back soon okay.”
She nods. “I’m not scared.”
I smile as I force my tears not to fall. “I know.”
They wheel her out and all I can do is stare. A hand pats me on my shoulder and I look to see Mrs. Taylor smiling sadly at me.
“Why?” I ask her. I ask her why they agreed on the surgery.
“Kelly wanted it. She told us she rather take the risks than be afraid of it her whole life.” Mrs. Taylor answers me “What can we do when our own daughter is stronger than us and wants it?”
I nod. “I wish I’m like her.”
“You can be scared Mary. Kelly said to us that she fears death and that’s why she wants us to take the risk because rather than cowering to death sometimes we have to face it head on.”
I go to the chapel with Kim after talking with Mrs. Taylor. I pray that God save the little girl, that Kelly will be okay. I pray with all my heart because somewhere in the road, I fell for that little girl. I love her like a true sister.
And I don’t want to lose the chance to see her smile and laugh.
I have a fever. I’m really burning up so I’m resting back in my room. Kim watches over me and tells me to rest.
I tell him I want to wait until Kelly’s surgery is over, he tells me that he’ll wake me up once there’s news so I close my eyes and let my body rest.
I do feel tired after all.
“I can’t tell her that now.” I hear Kim’s voice and I’m slowly waking up. “She has a fever!” his voice frantic.
I try to open my eyes but it’s hard. It feels heavy. “Kim…”
I hear him walking beside me, he takes me hand and squeezes it. “How are you feeling?” he asks.
This time I try harder to open my eyes. “Kelly.” I say the name because I can’t speak, my throat feels dry and I don’t know how to ask about Kelly.
He squeezes my hand harder. “You’ve been sleeping for three days Mary.” He informs me.
I close my eyes again, my eyelids really do feel tired. “Kelly.” I say again because he didn’t answer me.
“She… she didn’t make it.” His voice breaks. “I’m sorry.”
I feel something wet in my hand and I wonder what is it. Then I realize what Kim said. Kelly. Inevitably, I cry.
Kim holds my hand harder and I can still feel the wetness in my hand. I still hear him saying sorry and he tells me how Kelly died in the operating table.
I cry harder because the girl who made me believe I could try to live is gone. She’s gone and I’m never going to see her again. Life has taken another life that deserved to live.
Life is really unfair and I continue to cry until I can no longer weep.
Kim never lets go of my hand and I want him to. I want to be alone. I wish I haven’t woken up. The dreamless state is much better than waking up.
I cough and clutch my chest in my hand. Kim lets go of my hand and presses the button as I continue to cough. My chest hurts and I can’t breathe.
I cough harder as I try to breathe.
The last thing I remember is the doctors and nurses barging inside the room.