How loss defies life’s order and rewrites our stories
I paced around my bug-infested, studio converted two-bedroom apartment with two fingers to my neck, counting the thumps. I wasn’t sure if it was stress, the questionably tasting weed I had just smoked or a combination of both, but I was absolutely certain that I was about to die of a heart attack. When I realized it was beating too fast for me to keep track, I started to cry. A quiet, bewildered sort of cry that gradually contorted into an uncontrollable sobbing. After deciding against calling 9-1-1 and soaking in the tub for an undetermined amount of time, I was able to quell the shaking that had overcome my body and regain some common sense. A quick google search confirmed it; I had a panic attack. One of the first causes listed was the death of a family member. I thought back to the harsh fluorescent lighting and smell of bleach that overwhelmed my senses the day before and suddenly, it all made sense.
Dehydrated from faces full of salty tears, my aunts and cousins questioned why this hospital we were in didn’t seem to have any fucking water. The fountains were either malfunctioning or we were too stupid to figure out how to get them to work. The hallways stretched into strange turns that would only theoretically lead us to pay two dollars for a bottle of Dasani, decidedly the worst brand of corporate owned, plastic flavored water. I stepped out into the hallway silently, hoping to track down some of those juice boxes they give patients or a maybe a water cooler. Instead, I found my nine-months-pregnant sister pacing up and down the hallway talking on the phone with who I could only assume was her fiancé.
With tears in her eyes, she said, “I’m seriously about to pop off on him”.
I held back a laugh, knowing right away who she was talking about but waiting to hear the details of today’s episode. The anxiety inducing combination of severe thirst and a table full of identical water bottles potentially containing non-spousal germs had apparently sent our dad into a spiral that ended in him screaming threats and profanities in front of the hospital staff. I held her hand as she finished telling the story and contemplated not how this reflected our relationship with our dad or how we should go about…