As I traveled the labyrinth of hallways in the hospital to the psyche ward my nerves were on edge. I tried my best to dampen my expectations but this was the last place I ever expected to visit, let alone to visit my own mother. When I entered I was told the billing had been straightened out but I already knew that. I really wished they could tell me what to expect, when I see her again. That would be far more useful.
I had purchased a journal for her knowing my mother liked to write and thought it may give her something to do but they confiscated my book at the front desk because it was spiral bound and my mother or another patient could use the wire to harm themselves. If that’s not a reality check I’m not entirely sure what is. I made a mental note however to try again and get a bound book next time, or maybe I won’t have too because she will be allowed back home.
Home? Still had to figure out if what was the best course of action to take in regards to my mother.
“She’s in the common room,” the nurse told me as she points the way.
I found her sitting in room filled with light and a few potted plants. My mother always loved to garden so I guess she’d feel the most comfort here. Her face is turned away from me but I can see her brows are creased. She appears deep in thought.
She slowly turns and smiles at me. I’m so relieved. I don’t know why but I feared she would be mad at me for leaving her here.
She pats the chair next to her and I take seat.
“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t have a choice.”
My mom reached out and stroke the side of my cheek. “It’s okay, Alex. I understand why you had to.”
This surprised me. “You know what happened?”
“Some things I remember. I hate this disease. It’s slowly robbing me of everything that I love, well everything that death hasn’t already stolen.”
Tears fill her eyes and I gather her to me. “I love you, Mom. So much! I’m so sorry for staying away. I’ve missed so much time.”
“Shh!,” she soothed, stroking my hair. “None of this is your fault, baby. Not what’s happening to me, what happened to your brother, or your Dad. You can’t take all this on yourself. Some things just can’t be fixed.”
She held me away and we dried each other’s eyes and laughed a little that we had the same idea at the same time.
“How is Tina?”
“She’s doing well. She’ll be staying at the house until I know she’s okay to be on her own.”
My mom’s eyes widened in surprise. “I hurt her that badly? Oh Alex!”
“No, no!” I was quick to reassure her. “You didn’t hurt Tina. She stumbled and fell but she hit her head, which caused a mild concussion. I just don’t want her to be left alone.”
My mother gave my hand a squeeze. “I’m so glad she has you.”
“Well, both me and my fiancé,” I informed her wanting to take this lucid moment to tell her about Cat.
“You… you’re engaged?”
My mother looked stunned and then her face fell into sadness. “Did you tell me already and I forgot?”
“No, Mom. I wasn’t sure if we were still together when I first arrived. You see Cat is pregnant and…”
Again I shocked my Mom. I really need to find a better way of breaking news to her.
“The baby isn’t mine. It’s someone else’s but she was in a bad situation so she moved in with me.”
“You’re living together?! Before you’re married? And she pregnant with another man’s child?,” my Mom recapped trying I guess to be certain she was keeping it all straight, but she had that motherly disapproval tone to her voice at the same time.
“It’s difficult situation to explain.”
“I have nowhere to go,” she reminds me and I know it was meant as a joke but I couldn’t bring myself to laugh.
I spend the next 30 minutes filling her in on how Cat and I met. The confusion over her thinking I was gay because of the pictures I had in the apartment of Aidan. She had quite a good giggle over that one. When I got to my feelings on Liam and the threat he made my mother’s look turned fierce.
“There is no way that boy deserves to be anywhere near that child. You have to protect them, Alex. You have the resources. This Liam is no threat to you, not anymore.”
“I know, Mom, but Cat is still trying to keep him in her life. Liam is the baby’s father and if there is a chance for her child to have a relationship with him then she wants that chance. I want to protect them but I feel my hands are tied.”
“Stay vigilant, Alex. A man like that Liam seldom changes.”
I nodded in understanding. Then she smiled.
“Will I get to meet her?”
I returned her smile.
“The moment I can get you out here. She wanted to come with me now but you are only allowed one person here at the time.”
“It’s for the best. Not exactly the best impression. Meeting your future in-law in the loony bin.”
“Mom, it’s not like that.”
“Still I would prefer to be home, but Alex. You must promise me. Should I show signs like I have recently of being a burden or a threat to anyone, please promise you’ll send my away. I know your father has made arrangements for me. I will be well taken care of and you can visit me as often as you like, but please don’t take this burden on your own. I don’t want that.”
I hug her again. “I wish I could keep you safe. I wish I could keep you all safe. I hate feeling this powerless.”
“Power is just an illusion. We all want to believe we have control but…” She shrugs.
I can’t imagine how powerless, how out of control she must feel, dealing with this disease. One moment of lucidity can then be stripped away to leave you alone and scared even when those that you love surround you.
“I promise to do as you asked,” I told her and relief flooded her features. I guess this is the one last gift I can give her. She made the choice. That it wasn’t made for her. Even if she may forget that she made it, she knows I will not forget, I will always remember her sacrifice.