The room was silent. The only sound to be heard was the slow, steady dripping from my mother’s IV.
“What do you mean, you’re dying?”
Multiple Sclerosis was, in short, a bitch of a disease. Somewhere along the span of my mother's 35 short years on this planet, her immune system made a giant mistake. For uncertain reasons, her body began to attack nerve cells, severely affecting her brain's processing ability and mobility. The only medication that had ever subdued the symptoms was beginning to kill her.
“It isn’t an immediate thing, Makayla. I still have plenty of time.”
Turning away from my mother, I wiped tears from my eyes. There was no way in hell I was going to let my family see me cry. Absolutely no way. This was a joke. My mom was not going to die.
“Kayla, baby, talk to us. It’s okay.”
With a deep breath, I forced a smile, as I often did, and blinked away all traces of tears from my gray eyes. Turning around to meet my parents’ worried expressions, I simply nodded.
The question came out as more of a statement than a question. The morbid implication of those two short words spoke worlds louder than any words I could muster.
“5 years, at the absolute worst.”
At that, I stood, and left. I ran, and ran, and ran. I ran until my lungs hurt, and then kept running. But no matter where or how fast I went, I knew I could not escape the horrible reality of the matter.
The woman who gave me life was losing hers.
I was always the type of person who knew how to talk my way out of any situation.
And this time, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
There’s no sweet-talking death.
And with that, I began to accept her demise, and my defeat.
The first sip burned my esophagus, and I felt the blaze continue to my stomach, where it left a lasting warmth. I coughed a little, as the hazy feeling of drunkenness set in, setting my head spinning and my insides ablaze.
The past two months (52 days, 4 hours, and 30-something seconds) were a continuous downward spiral into a constant intoxicated state. Instead of addressing my feelings in the endless sea of counseling sessions and semi-sympathetic family therapy hours, I isolated myself. When my mother asked how I was, my reply remained the usual, “Doing great, mom.”
I was not, in fact, doing great. The alcohol wrapped itself into me, braided itself within my better sense, and I began to let myself fall apart. The wall I so often hid behind, the wall of perfection, of cool, was crumbling. Short, yet deep cuts lined my thighs, just high enough to be hidden by the hem of my shorts.
My mother had the opportunity to save her own life. Russian research had found a possible cure for the disease that had been plaguing her very existence. 3 weeks of chemotherapy, followed by a few months of intensive care, and she would be normal once again.
My mother denied the treatment.
“Too much money,” she said.
“Too inconvenient,” she said.
Compared to the life of my mother, no amount of money nor convenience mattered.
I was furious.
I was drunk.
My mind swam, speech slurred, fingers trembled.
My phone sat in front of me, propped up on a gray tissue box, which had been halfway expended due to that night’s waterworks. The Coca-Cola can which held my rum/coke concoction was long past empty. I was drunk, and screaming words like ‘sorry’ and ‘doesn’t deserve this’ into a pillow. I knew my mother deserved to live. Compared to me, she was a saint. I felt empty and pathetic. I deserved to die.
I convinced myself that maybe if I did something extreme, she would value her own life more than she did.
I held tightly onto the railing of my house’s only set of stairs, as I attempted to keep my balance. I walked drunkenly to the medicine cabinet, careful not to make noise and wake my parents. I grabbed as many pill bottles as I could carry.
Exactly 41 pills of assorted shapes, sizes, and colors sat in lines on my bed. Small to large, rainbow order. The comfort of organization wasn’t helping this time. I wanted to die.
Before starting my buffet of medication, my phone lit up. One new text.
“I know you were feeling upset earlier, and I just wanted to remind you that you are special. You matter.” I instantly felt even shittier for what I was about to do.
I laid down in bed, beginning to drown in my own tears, and let myself fall asleep.
Neither I nor my mother would be dying tonight.