My sister and I are waiting in our mother’s empty hospital room. We’re both too tired to speak, so we stare at our Blackberrys. It’s been a rough 36 hours.
As my sister sits up against the wall, furiously texting my cousin updates we don’t have, I’m sprawled out on my mom’s bed, trying not to think about anything other than what’s on my screen. I avoid words like “stroke” and “tumor.” I don’t feel like having my second meltdown in two days.
Dad took Mom down the hallway to take a shower, which we hope will make her feel better. None of us know exactly what’s wrong with her, and the doctors won’t tell us anything. They keep saying they have to run more tests.
So when two men walk in, both dressed in their finest white coats, my sister and I sit up straight, expecting some news.
I tell them that she’s in the shower. The tall young one looks down at the short older one, and they leave.
“Which patient is this?” I hear one of them say. They are standing right outside the doorway, not bothering to keep their voices down.
“Brain tumor. Husband brought her in yesterday morning.”
I stop breathing. My hands begin to shake. I’m fighting the urge to vomit.
“I see,” the other replies.
Liz and I look at each other. We remain silent, expecting to hear more, but the only sound is that of footsteps heading in the opposite direction.
I rush out into the hallway. The doctors have walked down to the nurse’s station.
“Hey!” I call, jogging toward them. “Who were you looking for?”
The younger one looks at the file.
“Ryan,” he says uncertainly.
“What about Carroll? Nancy Carroll?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” he says.
I nod and walk back to the room, my hands still shaking, but my nausea miraculously cured.
“What did they say?” Liz asks upon my return.
“It’s not her.”
“Why the fuck are they yelling that right outside her door then?” she snaps.
I get back into bed. We were lucky they weren’t talking about Mom. I wonder if we’ll get lucky again.
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