A memory: I walk outside to smoke a cigarette, or three. I get a horrible coffee from the vending machine – need caffeine, don’t care that it tastes like shit. The time is somewhere between one and three in the morning – I lost track of it. This night, the longest in my life. I sit on the curb outside of the ER, a lonely wheelchair is parked on the side. An ambulance drives up. A doctor – his sneakers still wrapped in these funny disposable thingies – comes out quickly, gives me an empty look, and lights his cigarette. He smokes it in fast puffs – three minutes and he’s rushing back in. Minutes pass. I light another cigarette. And another. The coffee makes me want to throw up, but I drink it anyway. More minutes pass, another man comes out for a smoke. I am just another woman stricken by tragedy tonight.
I sit on the curb and stare ahead, not seeing. There is something physically heavy inside me; fog in my brain. Why? Why? Why!!! What was going on through her mind as she was swallowing one pill after another? One pill ten pills twenty sixty and then some more. Did she count them before? Where the hell did she get the strength and courage to keep swallowing?! I am numb. I am raging. I am sad. I am devastated. I am everything and nothing.
My dad is suddenly sitting next to me, lighting a cigarette. His arm over my shoulder. A bit of warmth, a bit of love in the midst of this dejection. He doesn’t speak. I don’t speak. For what soothing words can you tell a woman whose daughter has just tried to end her world, and whose mother has tried to end hers only three weeks earlier? There are no words. No words. No words.
The rest of the night passes in a blur of self-pity. The ER is relatively quiet, Michelle’s sleep is disrupted every now and then, she tosses and turns for a while, opens her eyes, stares at me incomprehensibly. I hold her hand and tell her I love you, choking on my own pain, but smiling at her, until she fades away again into another world.
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