Qualified Entry: Non-Fiction Category
By: John Flynn
There they sit…in the kitchen. Sisters, brothers, nieces, in-laws and other relatives all sit there evening after evening, night after night waiting just waiting. What are they waiting for? What common thread has brought this collection of people together to sit in a dimly lit room for hours on end? They’re waiting for the woman in the next room to die. Harsh as that may sound or seem it’s the plain truth.
They all sit there for hours at a time talking about the old times, the good times, the bad times. They talk of death and dying, church, religion and any number of topics to pass the time. This new routine has taken on some sort of odd normalcy, for now it’s what they do. It’s what they all do except for one outlier one black sheep in this odd herd.
You see her walking back and forth between the kitchen and the makeshift bedroom ever busy, ever strong. You’ll notice her right away by the telltale signs of the rubber gloves she regularly wears and the constant combination of worry, fear, grief, exhaustion and despair she wears on her face.
Who is she? Who is our rubber glove clad heroine? It’s the woman’s daughter, but she is oh so much more than that. For the past two plus years she has been an advocate, a caretaker and a cheerleader fighting to keep her mother alive and cared for no matter the obstacle that was put in front of her.
She has tirelessly worked to save her mother from the ravages of her disease but there is no cure, there is no saving her. The cancer can’t be stopped or even slowed down now, that time has passed. The daughter knows this all too well because she has seen it countless times before. In her line of work the death of a loved one is a reality that can’t be escaped.
Most times she doesn’t have time to stop and grieve for what is about to happen at any given time. That is saved for the private moments in front of the people she doesn’t always have to be strong in front of. She presses on always making sure her mother is as comfortable as possible. As the nurse in the family, the people in the kitchen have thrust that duty upon her. With her Atlas like strength she holds the weight of her family on her shoulders with little help
Sure the others order Chinese or have a pizza delivered thinking that will help giving themselves the false sense of comfort that they doing their part, but in the grand scheme of things that does little to help the situation all it does is ensure that they will have a full belly while they wait.
As another evening comes to a close and everyone in the kitchen heads home the daughter checks on her mother one last time before unrolling her bed and placing on the floor next to her mother’s bed. There she will get a few hours of fit full sleep and when she wakes up the next morning to run another marathon at a sprinters pace she hopes her mom wakes up too.