A/N: This story is inspired by a real life event, written so I could come to grips with what happened. Mum, this is for you. Please get well soon.
Please review, people of the world, and let me know your thoughts. It'd be greatly appreciated.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
I remember. I remember a time – a while ago, a couple of years back, I think – when my mother would bounce back from sickness with a quick snap of her fingers. To me, it seemed like magic. Nothing could linger long on Mia Spinelli. She was untouchable, unbeatable, uncrushable. She would wave away bad colds like they were no big deal, and she would always face the world with a strong, truly sincere smile. She was my mum, and that was the simple fact. I was the one that always needed taking care of, always the one that needed to be tucked in after a nightmare, to be kissed on my clammy forehead whenever a fever broke out, to be held whilst I cried. Mum never needed it – I was the child, she was the mother, it was simply the way of nature.
But there was once, even before this 'incident' occurred, when this just simply didn't happen. When my world was turned upside-down, pulled inside out, stretched and pulled because a moment of pure fear, anxiety and worry.
It was last year, or maybe the year before, and it was just me, my mum, and Luca at home by ourselves. I can't remember the exact reason why dad wasn't there (time seems to steal those small details, locking them away somewhere that could never be found) but the fact is it was just us three. There we were, sitting on our old couch, curled up underneath a faded purple blanket, watching a movie. Just the three of us. I still remember the way the room looked as the TV flickered before us. In my memory, it was strange – the furniture didn't seem familiar, and the shadows that were cast were way too creepy for my liking. Mum had turned all the lights off to give it a 'real movie setting'. But the shadows…they looked like they could be hiding any number of secrets, secrets that weren't meant to be known. But, even with the strange surroundings, I felt safe. I was warm, I was cosy, and I was right next to two people that I loved. It was calming. At least, that's how my mind likes to pretend it was.
Maybe the memory altered itself, making the "before" seem more perfect in comparison to the "after", distorting the truth so that the "after" seems twice as bad. It's like my grandfather – he always likes to exaggerate the truth to make the story sound better; maybe that was what my mind was doing to itself? I don't know.
Anyway, there we were, sitting together, giggling at the right moments in the movie (the movie I can't recall, but it had something to do with a robot in the future trying to become more than just a robot) and all was well.
And then mum started shaking.
She had been unwell for the past couple of days, but she wouldn't let any of us worry about her. She pushed away the pain, plastered that Mum smile on her face, and continued on her way. But I had noticed – as someone who had always heavily relied on her mother's say so and copied her expressions so that she would know what to do – that there had been some change within her. Something wasn't right. I thought that maybe she was hiding how bad it really was. Hiding it not just from us, her family, but from herself. Maybe trying to convince herself that it would blow over, that it wasn't a big deal, that it would all be okay.
But now she was shaking, and I could feel the blanket shaking with her. I looked at her and was startled to see that her face was scrunched up tight in pain, and that she had a sheen of sweat that seemed to cover her face and neck completely. It scared me. Then she let out a whimper – a small, quiet one, like that of a puppy – and a tear rolled down her check.
And that's the precise moment that I knew that nothing was okay.
I paused the movie, it didn't matter to me anymore, and crawled across to where she lay. Luca glanced nervously between my face and hers, understanding dawning. I could see the corners of his mouth turn down as they always do when he is about to cry, but he was holding it together.
Carefully, I placed my hand on mum's arm, trying to still her a little and figure out what was wrong. But the moment I did, the shakes grew harder and harder. She wasn't having a fit – I knew that for sure – but there was something definitely wrong. Biting my lip, I hugged her to me, asking her what was wrong, what I could do, how I could help.
But she only shook her head briskly, not daring utter a word, as she tried to stifle a sob. For my mum, my protector, to be crying in pain, I knew it was awful. Mum was strong. She always had been, and I thought she always would be. But in that moment, I have to admit that I had my doubts.
Soon enough, I was shaking with her, stressing out. I couldn't do anything, or more I didn't know what to do. Luca stood beside me, glancing dumbly around, clearly in the same predicament I was: hands itching to help, but with no idea how.
And then I was crying too, voice cracking as I asked Luca to grab the phone. This was out of my depths. I couldn't manage this. I was no doctor, no nurse, and I was unsure as to whether this constituted an emergency phone call for an ambulance. I didn't have any practise in this. I didn't know how to handle this situation.
I DIDN'T KNOW.
They try and teach you this stuff in school, but it isn't anything like real life. Real life puts a pressure on you – a pressure to think quick, act fast, do well, all without really knowing what the right course of action was. It was crazy; enough to drive anyone near mad with the heavy loads of stress and doubt.
With shaking hands – whether from my own nervousness or from hugging mum, I wasn't sure – I reached for the cordless phone that Luca had brought to me. Without thinking, I dialled in a number for one of mum's friends but mum stopped me. With a strained voice she told me no, told me that she didn't need anyone.
It was clear as day that she did. I couldn't drive, as I wasn't yet old enough, but if I was I would have pulled her into the car straight away and driven her to a doctor, to a hospital, to anything that had even the slightest chance of helping her. But as it was, I couldn't. I tried to convince her that she did need help, but she remained obstinate.
Ten minutes passed by with me stuck like a broken recorded repeating the same thing to her as I held her close and cried. I would say to her 'please mum, let me ring someone, I'm scared, and you need help' and she would reply 'no, I'm fine, it's okay, stop it Francesca'. Over and over. And endless loop. Until I couldn't stand it anymore. Ignoring my mother's wishes, I dialled her friend. As she answered, I could barely explain the situation as my voice broke from the tears. The silence after the phone call was like an extra blanket covering us: except this one brought no comfort at all. I could hear my heart thumping erratically in my chest, hear my mum's breath catching in her throat as she tried to control to the pain, hear the emptiness of the house.
I waited. And waited. Waited for help to come. Time stretched out endlessly in front of me, and my ears were constantly pricked for the sound of a car in the driveway. Anxiety was building itself a steady wall inside me, rising and growing taller with every second that ticked past, and I could barely stop myself from pacing. Looking at Luca, I could see that he was having even more trouble, and that he had lost the battle against his tears: they were now flowing freely down his cheeks. I motioned him to take my place beside mum, and he all but collapsed next to her. To me it seemed that mum need him as much as he needed her. I got up to check the window for any indication of headlights. My eyes were trained on the end of the street, waiting, waiting.
She arrived shortly, although my heart said differently, taking one quick look at mum before carting her off to the nearest hospital.
And there we were left, staring at the closed door, alone.
I could still feel her shaking beneath me, a reminder of how bad it really was, expelling any notions of anything being okay.
Now, I know better. Mum is still in bed, hasn't gotten up for three days. The incident that occurred a however long ago is little more than history, but it lingers in my brain at a time like this, a niggling reminder that mum was never indestructible, and that I was a fool to assume she ever was. It only made the truth hit harder.
The missing music in the house mocks me as I lean in to check on mum. She is lying in the dark on her messy bed, and she makes no move to acknowledge that I am even there. I step out, closing the door behind me.
It isn't fair.
But then again, life never is.
But mum's crumpled form scares me – there is no other way to put it. She looks exactly like she did a year ago; tired, worn out, almost dead to the world. But then again, last time she had looked like this she had been given heavy medication, she hadn't slept at all, and she was dealing with the extreme pain of infection taking over her kidneys. Now…now I had no explanation. No reason for why mum was like this.
And no one will tell me.
Walking out the door, these doubts and worries and fears settled on my brain and clung tightly.
What if this time, mum wouldn't get up?
What if this time, there was nothing, not even medication that could fix her?
What if this time, mum would stay gone, stuck behind a closed door that no amount of 'okays' could ever open?
What if this time I would truly lose my mum?