End of the Line

End of the line

“We’ll be running a number of tests before we actually remove the lump. You’ll find you’ll have quite a bit of time on your hands so don’t start panicking if you think it’s taking too long”.

They were the final words spoken before they took her away. I’ve always believed the doctor had intended to comfort me and set my mind at ease with her words. If that had been her intended plan, she failed.

I remember sitting in that cold, semi-lit hospital waiting room thinking this was it. The moment I had always avoided thinking about but was now forced to face. I’ve always consoled myself by being naive and thinking that death happens to other people’s families but not in your own. Other people’s families are stricken by illness and disease. That’s something I’ll never be forced to deal with. Now I had become other people’s families. Now I was being forced to suffer the pain of waiting for test results. Waiting to know my mother’s fate.

In a desperate attempt to distract myself I snatched a magazine off the nearby table. Dull furniture and over coloured curtains decorated the pages. The amusing thought of actually witnessing a home decorated in this manner distracted my mind for only a brief second.

I longed for someone, anyone to run out and tell me that everything was all right. That there had been some kind of mistake. It was merely a tiny speck. A small skin regrowth. Too microscopic to even see let alone be removed.

Clunk! I turned to find a short, stubby man propping up a stepladder directly beside me. I watched as he climbed up to remove the dirt filled light covering. Tiny specks of brown dust particles began to fall. Sensing danger I jumped to my feet and slumped into the adjacent chair. “You can trust me” he laughed. A courtesy smile back was the best I could manage. A second gentleman seemed to appear from the shadows to say, “I wouldn’t trust you either”. Their laughter brought out a slight giggle but not enough to make me forget why I was there.

I fell back into my depression and felt for the first time a tear swell into my eye. The thought of losing my mother forever was too painful to bear. Life without her was unimaginable.

New hope appeared once I caught a glimpse of a nurse towering over the waiting room. She seemed to scan the room in search of something, or as I hoped someone. I felt the urge of yelling out, “I’m over here”, in hope that this was the good news I craved to hear. She glanced down at a piece of paper she held in her right hand then called, “Mitchell”. A plump, middle-aged looking woman slowly rose and followed the nurse as she guided her in to see the doctor. All hope had gone and I was forced to continue the agonising pain of waiting.

The wait seemed to be an eternity. I began to get restless, fidgeting in my chair, biting my nails. Surely it couldn’t take this long. Had there been some complications? Were they trying to avoid telling me the bad news? A million of the worst possible outcomes raced through my mind.

Finally the attending doctor appeared. With anxiety I studied her face trying to determine whether the news was good or bad. She appeared puzzled as she sat in the adjacent chair to mine. In a calm, soft voice she explained that, “her lump has significantly reduced and all tests have shown up clear. Really there’s nothing to remove. She has been quite fortunate. Your mother is perfectly fine and you’re free to go home now”.

I breathed a sigh of relief as my mother appeared. It was at that moment that I realised how precious and important family is. You live your life longing for that day when you’re free of them. The day you become independent. Then, one horrifying incident makes you realise how much you care and need them.

In silence we walked out towards the car. As we approached I turned to my mother and threw my arms around her. I allowed the tears to fall as I exclaimed for the very first time in my life, “I love you mum”.


The above story was written when I was about 16 years old for a school English assignment. I can’t recall the mark I received, I think it may have been nine or ten out of ten. I had no interest in being a writer back then though. Life may have turned out very differently if I had.

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