Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just a Headache

It is the middle of the night.  Not sure when.  Maybe around 3 or 4 in the morning. One of those visits home during a break from college.  I wake to the sound of wailing -- of crying and screaming -- a mix of all those.  I throw off my comforter and jump out of bed, open the door, out to the living room, where I see my mother crouched on the sofa in front of the window, rumpled in her pajamas, her hands covering her head.  The wailing, crying, screaming streaming out of her.  Tears falling out of her eyes.  In pain, she is in pain.  She is wailing, crying, screaming in pain.  What, what's going on, what's wrong?  I ask as I approach.  My father and brother, still in their pajamas, stand by the side of the TV as she sits alone.

Her head hurts, my dad says.  It's okay.  Go back to sleep.

Mom, what's wrong?  Are you okay?  Where does it hurt?

As I approach, she flinches, as if afraid to be touched.  She continues to wail, cry, scream.  She does not answer.  Cries and cries.  More tears dropping out of her now closed eyes.  Her arms wrapped around her head.  Crouched on the sofa, her feet bare.  Rocking like a caged monkey.

I step back, afraid to cause her more pain.

Go back to sleep, my dad repeats.  She'll be okay.

Okay?  What do you mean she'll be okay?  She's not okay.  Look at her.  How long has she been crying like this?

Not too long.  It'll go away.  Don't worry.

My father and brother continue to stand there.  She'll be okay, they repeat.  They do not budge.  Just stand there as if they are waiting for their sandwiches at the deli.

Throughout, my mother is wailing, crying, screaming.  Face scrunched, mouth open, tears dropping.  Gripping her head, her arms a vise.

The sound of her pain fills the room.  It is a maddening sound.  I am trapped in her cry, a cry I cannot stop.      

Dad, we have to take her to the hospital.  Something is wrong.  We have to get it checked out.  Let's go.

Just go to sleep, my father says again.  It's just a headache.  Go back to sleep.

I look at him, my eyes widening.  What do you mean it's just a headache.  Do you hear her crying?  It could be something really bad.  Why are you just standing there?  Let's go to the hospital.  Let's go.  Why are you just standing there?  Mom, let's go.  We have to go to the hospital.

My father and brother continue to stand there.  Shoulders drooping.  Expressionless.

I'm screaming.  Do you hear me?  Get the keys.  Let's get in the car.  We have to go to the hospital.  LET'S GO.  LET'S GO.  Why are we just standing here??  LET'S GO.  I'll drive her.  I'll drive her myself.  Give me the keys.  Where are they?  I'll call an ambulance.  I'll pay for it.  How much can it cost to get this checked out?  We have to take her to the hospital.

They are silent, my father and brother.

And I'm screaming and crying.  Tears dropping down my face.  Me clutching my head whirling in the madness of it all.  LET'S GO.  LET'S GO.  WE HAVE TO TAKE HER TO THE HOSPITAL.  Mom, let's go.  Let's get in the car.  LET'S GO.

And as I'm screaming, crying, and wailing, my mother looks up and pauses long enough to whisper, "It's okay.  Go to sleep.  It's just a headache."

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