May 5, 2016,
East Los Angeles, College – 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez Monterey Park, California 91754
HOW BAD TO YOU WANT HILLARY?
BAD ENOUGH TO TAKE THE RISK OF GETTING YOUR NOSE SMASHED!
It’s barely 10am but I’m already up and ready to hit the road. As I packed a few water bottles and some snacks in the trunk of my rental car, I took a deep breath from the crisp, dry Irvine air. The weather is always fresh in Irvine and the temperature always perfect! Runners would love this kind of weather, I thought, as a few people were running briskly along the street.
The unfamiliar car, unknown streets, driving in a crazy LA traffic, I felt nervous. Thinking of how poor is my sense of directions and how easily I get lost around my own town, I thanked God for the navigators!
Fifty-five minutes later, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself at the Monterey Park, CA, where the rally was scheduled. A long line had already been formed, I couldn’t see the end of it.
There were many police cars parked along the streets as I rushed through them. As soon as I reached the line, someone handed me a short form to fill out. On the top of the form it said: “Hillary can count on me, volunteering opportunities,” continued with a few questions about the volunteer’s name and address.
It was exciting to see Hillary Clinton. People came from all over California, some from other States, like me. Most people were talking and laughing while some already frustrated by the long line and the massive crowd.
It seemed like more than 500 people were ahead of me and even more behind me. I was told that there will be many of the Bernie Sanders’ supporters and warned me about the protestors but luckily I didn’t see any of them around.
Halfway through the line, there were a couple ladies, grilling hotdogs with a few people around them, waiting for their orders. The smell of the hotdog, grease, and the fries along with the smoke coming off the grill was nauseating. I was surprised they were even allowed to be there.
A woman holding a sign that says “No human being is illegal” walking alongside a man on a skateboard.
A young man with a blue shirt with ‘kittle brand’ written on it, offering free snacks to everyone. He had a cart-full of a variety of snacks. Everyone wanted one.
I’m looking at the beginning of the line and think it just doesn’t get any shorter!
Finally, an hour and half later, we got closer to the gymnasium. A half dozen of Hispanic men, wearing blue-green outfits, hats in hand, waiting for the event to start. These are the musicians, most of them holding musical instrument.
I took a picture of the musicians and sent it to the “HillaryClintonClub” that I’m a member of. We are about 1,300 members in this group and comment on each other’s posts, share thoughts, worries, news, and support each other.
I kept posting the event updates but unlike other times, I didn’t hear much from them. Only some “likes” and “thank you” messages. I was surprised then but later I found out that they knew something that I didn’t!
Around 4pm, I reached to the entrance of the gym. It looked small and already packed with hundreds of excited people, eager to see Hillary Clinton.
Waiting in line for the security check, the sweet smell of someone’s perfume, mixed with stale, sweaty, spoiled air brushed my face. It seemed a little hot and humid and I hoped for a better air system at the gym.
I was lucky to have had a chance to be allowed to enter the gym. There were hundreds of people behind me who couldn’t get in.
I squeezed myself through the sardined-style packed people and excused myself, pushed through them all the way to the left side of the room, a few steps away from the barricades. As I got there, I found myself in the middle of an argument. I felt the tension among a group of girls, exchanging some harsh words and pushing each other to the right and left. There were two women standing in front of me, one was a heavy set woman, seemed very angry and apparently was the center of the tension. The other was slim and tall, moving with the rhythm of the music front and back as she was stepping on my toes repeatedly and tapping on the floor with every beat of the drum.
From the beginning, I noticed these two women were texting, calling, and exchanging messages with a group of people standing behind us. They looked tense and worried but I didn’t think of much, because I was restless myself.
The time wouldn’t go fast enough for me, I kept checking the clock, anxiously waiting to see Hillary.
When the Latino band entered, everyone screamed and cheered. Some people knew the band and shouted their names, some even sang the lyrics along with them.
After the musicians were done, some speakers took the stage encouraging people to support Hillary Clinton. We clapped and agreed with the importance of voting for Hillary, we screamed “Hillary, Hillary,….” repeatedly.
The crowd’s enthusiasm got bigger and bigger as time went by. We kept asking each other, what time would she arrive.
Finally, the moment was here, HRC entered, wearing a light green jacket. The crowed burst with excitement and joy, screaming her name out “Hillary, Hillary, Hillary, ….”
Her beautiful smile suddenly brightened the room, like a ray of golden sun in a beautiful Fall afternoon, touched us all, gave us a fuzzy warm feeling.
Her kind and gentle waving and greeting, her acknowledging the supporters across the room was unbelievable!
I was a few steps away from the stage, standing right by the barricades, listening to HRC so close, I could hear my heart beating like a drum, trying to skip out of my chest. It was the moment, our Hillary was here, my whole body had turned into ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ to look at her and to listen to her!
Suddenly, we were rudely interrupted by this boy, a few rows behind me, yelling: “liar, liar,” I turned around; he seemed like a fourteen-year-old boy with a nasty grin on his face, screaming while trying to hide his face behind the crowd.
I yelled at him: “stop it, what’s the matter with you?”
But he continued to shout. There was a tall guy standing next to that boy and looking straight ahead like nothing was bothering him. I told him “stop him, tell him to stop.”
The guy turned around and said something to the boy who stopped his rude shouting. I wondered if it was the boy’s father? I was disgusted with the thought of it. Are parents teaching children to disrespect HRC?
Calling her a liar? I’m so sick and tired of decades of endless accusations and lies made about Hillary. If you ask these people “what exactly she lied about?” they can’t say anything logical because they have heard it from others, repeatedly, and then they themselves have repeated it, believed in it, and used it against her.
What a pitiful world this is! I’m disgusted and nauseated with all this accusations. I’m sick and tired of those who try to taint Hillary’s name and portray her as a dishonest person. I pity you and feel sorry for you for trying to hurt and insult and disgrace a woman who has spent her entire life serving the country. I pity you and yes, I hate you for criticizing Hillary Clinton, blaming her for your own mistakes! May God punish you, liars, what you deserve!!
Halfway through the talk, I hear someone yelling:
“You killed Bertha, you killed Bertha….”
It took me a while to understand what this woman was saying. I was right behind her. Within seconds, I squeezed myself straight in front of her, my back to the barricades, held her arms and screamed at her: “stop it, stop it, stop it” but she went on and on without acknowledging me or without attempting to release her arms from my grip.
The news cameras and the reporters suddenly left HRC and focused their attention on her, not only one or two cameras but it seemed like all of them had rushed to take the protester in action. DIRTY MEDIA! Their sad and pathetic need for a pitiful news is what encourages people like these protestors to create a disruption in order to get on the news.
At that point, I didn’t care about the cameras or the situation I was getting myself into, all I wanted to do was to stop her. I was holding her arms, shaking her and asking her repeatedly to stop. And finally after screaming non-stop for several minutes, she did stop! She stopped yelling while I was still holding and squeezing her huge arms. She looked at me directly! Our faces only about 4 inches apart from each other. She didn’t try to get out of my grip. She didn’t have to. My arms went limb and fell on my sides.
She was a big woman, young and strong. She continued her gaze straight into my eyes. I had a creepy feeling of “o, sh.t!” This is it; she’s going to hit me on the face. My nose kind of ached, I had it broken twice already. I remembered last year in San Francisco, when I tried to see outside window, my hand slipped and I hit the window cell, flat, on my nose. The blood streaming out, I kept repeating, “I broke my nose,” and paced back and forth in my sister’s bedroom. My sister, Sori, who is a physician, jumped out of her bed, rubbing one eye, looking with the other, repeating, “no you didn’t,” and tried to fix it for me.
I felt the pain all over again. I was sandwiched between her and the barricades and had no way of getting out of her sight. I waited for a punch and prayed, not my nose, not my nose….
Ironically, she didn’t hit me, she didn’t do anything but just looked at me for a few very long seconds. Those seconds seemed awfully long and painful. I still remember her fuming eyes focusing directly into my eyes, watching me like a lion waiting for the right moment to tear me apart. And I felt a chill across my spine. It seemed like the world stopped around me. I couldn’t hear anything, couldn’t even say anything, I felt like I was complete in her mercy.
A quick glance of my condition, I looked from the top of her shoulder, there was a cop standing but he was doing nothing! He had his eyes on both of us. What was he waiting for?
I heard Hillary Clinton’s voice, still talking, she gave me the courage, everything looked normal. I gasped for air, looked at the cop again and slightly pushed the woman with the tip of my fingers towards him. She turned around and without saying a word walked out with the cop.
As she left, I assumed everything would be fine but her friends were still here, they kept kicking me and pushing me with their shoulders, trying to get me out of there. I resisted the pressure and kept holding from the barricades.
I had never experienced anything like this before. I was greatly disturbed and saddened by this much hostility. For the remaining time, when Hillary was talking, I was praying not to let someone else interrupt.
It broke my heart to see her talk was interrupted so rudely and she was called a liar by a stupid 14-year-old boy. How could it be?
How would people allow themselves to be so callous and rude? If you’re not a supporter, don’t come to a Rally. Stay away, get the hell out of the gym and let us enjoy our time with the woman we love and admire.
Moments later, it seemed so short, Hillary Clinton was done. I was happy nothing else had happened. She came to the supporters, shook their hands, talked to them, smiled at them, listened to them, and took pictures with them.
When she got closer to me, my heart was beating so fast that I could hear my own heartbeat throughout my ears. In the past, I had been to more than a dozen of HRC’s rallies but I always stayed back and watched her from a distance.
Suddenly, like a dream, I saw her right in front of me, extending her hand. I held her hand while I was still shaking and distraught. She looked at me with her concerned clear, blue eyes, like ‘are you ok?’ I held both of her hands and screamed, “I love you.” People were screaming “Hillary, Hillary….” and stole her attention, she greeted them, thanked them, smiled at them while still holding my hands.
I thought my heart was melting away! Here was the woman I admired most of my life. In 2008 when she didn’t win, I cried for days and was depressed for weeks. I hated Obama to the point that I wouldn’t want to vote for him. At the GirlsInc. meeting, when Hillary Clinton asked us all to vote for Obama, I cried, it was the most difficult thing for me to do, to vote for someone who was not as deserving as HRC was. It was hard! But I did, Hillary wanted me to do so!
Tonight, I wanted to tell her how much I appreciated her hard work, her dedication, her tireless efforts to help people, but I couldn’t find any words. I just looked at her.
Moments later, she moved on to those next to me, talking, smiling, and taking their cameras to capture a selfie with them. Most of those around me were friends of the protestors. Here, she was getting close to those people, taking selfies, as I prayed for her safety.
The crowd was pushing everyone to the front line where I was standing, stressing on the barricades. I was trying hard to lean back in the opposite direction of the force, holding the barricade, pulling back, afraid it might fall off to the front and there was Hillary. She didn’t know what was going on as she was greeting them and taking selfies with them.
I screamed for help. One of the security guards looked at me, I said “they are pushing, they are pushing it on purpose, they’re trying to make the barricade fall,”
The guard shook her head and walked away.
I continued to hold the crowd back and screamed again, “they’re pushing, they’re pushing” when another guard was walking by. He came to my help and screamed at them:
DON’T PUSH, DON’T PUSH, STOP PUSHING!!
The force of pushing stopped and I finally relaxed.
Trying to find where Hillary was, I felt disoriented, there were black and white dots moving around me, a strange, continuous humming sound had filled my head, bursting into my ears… and there was a solid greet spot looking hazier and lighter by the minute…………………….
… I stood there and held on the barricades, there was one solid green spot that I couldn’t take my eyes off. It was going further and further, looking lighter less visible by the minute. I could picture her smile, shaking hands, taking pictures, selfies, and waving all from behind a curtain of fog and haze….as she was getting away from us, until she was gone, all I could see was a wall of brown bricks, and the moving black and white dots surrounding me with a flood of unknown black and white dots,
The noise continued to hammer in my ears; I kept holding from the barricades, the dots were getting thinner and thinner until they disappeared. I looked around; I was the only one standing next to the barricades. Almost everyone else was gone. The place looked empty. There was someone dancing on the floor with the Latino singers who were playing music, the camera crew still in the middle of the room, folding and untying the cords and packing their equipment.
I went all the way to top the bleachers and just sat there. a flood of tears suddenly streamed from my eyes and poured on my cheeks, burning my cheeks like I had a fever of a thousand degrees. I let cry, I let the tears roll down my cheeks and burn my face.
Some people were folding the chairs, some putting away their equipment, some laughing, talking, dancing.
The sounds of hammering machines in my head had suddenly replaced by a strangely deep silence, mixed with a feeling of deafness, like I was under the water, or perhaps I had lost my hearing.
I stayed there motionless with tears running nonstop. Suddenly I saw someone waving at me, trying to get my attention. I had to focus hard to understand what he was saying: “ma’am we are closing.”
I came back to myself and realized everyone was gone,
Outside, it was another world; I saw dozens of cops on horses, police cars, cops walking around, checking people and looking around. Something had happened while I was inside, sitting on the bleachers.
The streets were packed with people, some were just standing and talking, others were walking around but most of them were carrying signs of “Bernie Sanders.”
I picked up bits and pieces of their conversation and gathered that Bernie people had done a number of things, they had harassed Hillary supporters, shaming them for supporting her, spitting on them, yelling at the children, ……. and there were rumors that some of these people were actually hired to protest and to disrupt Hillary’s rally. As usual, he had played a dirty game with the democratic party!
To Bernie, Donald, and their supporters: why so mean? What has Clinton done to you to deserve this?
Since a year ago when I joined the “HillaryClintonClub,” I have heard it repeatedly that, Hillary says:
“you should not lower your class,”
“stay above them,”
“keep the bar high,”
“you are Americans and must keep your high standards,”
“Hillary doesn’t like you to protest,”
……….but it’s hard and it leaves me powerless! Sometimes I want to scream at them and call them whatever they call us, but then I remember that I’m representing Hillary Clinton. I must act like one she’d be proud of!
………and it’s very hard keep the high standard with those who have NO standards at all.
I had my Hillary signs in English and in Spanish that I had picked up from the gym and pressed them on my chest. At that time, she was the only one I knew, all around me were Bernie’s people, angry and mad, looking for trouble. They were so young, I wondered if they were anything more than 18 years old.
I pressed the signs tighter against my chest and walked fast to get out of there.
As soon as I got far enough from the crowd, I sat under a huge tree, watched the cops and thanked one of them who was staring at me.
– “thank you for protecting our Hillary,” I said.
He smiled with joy:
– “you bet!”
An older man, on his late 70s, carrying a few water bottles, wearing a “Hillary, I’m With You” shirt smiled at me when he saw my Hillary signs. I automatically went to him and asked if I could hug him.
He gave me a big smile, showing a missing tooth, and opened his arms. I hugged him and thanked him for supporting Hillary. He whispered, “she’s our girl.”
An hour later, in East LA, where everyone had warned me to stay away from for being the most unsafe place in LA, I was still sitting under a tree, watching the event coming to an end. The event that probably has become one of the most unforgettable events in my entire life.
ARE YOU WITH ME?
I hear the voice. I try to scream, I am with you, I am …
but I can’t say a word. I FOLLOW. the road is bumpy. it’s harsh and unpleasant.. I fall down. I get up. I fall again. I get up again, injured and in pain. tears burning my cheeks. … pain piercing my heart…
SHE KEEPS GOING, strong and certain, making sure I follow her.. making sure I’m ok… and I wonder HOW DOES SHE DO THIS? how does she put up with this much cruelty and harshness? I’m falling apart ….. I want to cry…
She turns around, there’s a deep sadness on her face, disappointment, frustration…. but her voice is strong….
Smiles at me, focusing on me with those clear blue eyes: you ok????????
As I stood at the door, I hardly believed it was seven years ago today, as I was holding tight from the doorframe, I hesitated for a long time, thinking once I leave this door, when I return, I will be motherless!
I still remember the voices screaming in my head, “you won’t have a mother anymore, she will be gone, and you’ll lose the only unconditional love that you ever had in your whole life….”
My sweet mother! She will be gone forever…
It was a gloomy night. A cold, snowy, sad February night that seemed like the entire world was frozen.
I was laying down in bed in the dark, counting the clock’s tick tock to block the sad voices in my head.
Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…
As the time passed by, the tick tocks got louder and louder to the point that I felt like someone was hammering the walls. I could not take it anymore, held my ears and screamed “stop it, stop it, stop” and cried, pushing my head down into the pillows to make the sounds go away….
I had spent the last two nights with Mom and had just come home to pick up a few items before heading back to be with Mom and my siblings.
Most of my siblings and their families were in the living room, pretending to have a normal talk, trying hard to hide their fear and pain from each other. Kids were playing around, quietly and cautiously not to disturb Momma.
My youngest sister Sahar and her husband, Dan, were preparing dinner for everyone. As I was leaving the house, I overheard Sahar saying:
“Everyone, this is Mom’s favorite dish, come and enjoy.”
Nobody said a word as she continued: “it will be the last turnip dish, the last one that you’ll ever have… that is made by Mom….” stretching the word ‘ever’ a few syllables, her voice shaking.
The hot spicy aroma of sautéed turnip with ginger and garlic had filled the house. The two most important ingredients that Mom never failed to use. Garlic and ginger, a must-use in all of her dishes, and this was the aroma that always gave me the warm feeling of ‘home, sweet home.’
Tonight, our home was far from being sweet.
I had not eaten anything all day and felt weak and dizzy, perhaps, sleepless and tired. As I had my head under the pillows, I barely heard my phone ringing. I jumped out with a scream, tried to find the phone.
It was my brother-in-law Dan, sounded disheartened: “we’re taking mom to the hospital.”
My heart sank, God, No, please don’t…
I dragged my numb body out of bed. I had been laying in a state of deep sadness and despair, like in a coma, helpless with the thoughts of losing mom, fighting the voices inside me, screaming “she’s not going to be with us for long, she’s not going to make it, this is the end…. this is it… the end of our happy life….”
I stood there at the doorframe, thinking the longer I stay here, the longer I’ll hold on to my mother…. and I stayed there for a long time, clinging onto the door knob, thinking of the last time that mom had entered my house through this same door, and it wasn’t too long ago, not more than six months ago…..
The snow was falling steadily, everywhere was quiet. There were almost no other cars on the streets. Just me, driving slowly with frozen, ice-cold fingers.
Dan told me which hospital but I forgot and drove to the wrong clinic where Mom always went for her checkups. They had closed the clinic for the night.
I assumed it must be the hospital, five miles away, the Alegent Center where Mom received her Chemotherapy there. Every time after each Chemo session, Mom and I went for a long ride. Mom liked to listen to the music and enjoyed the long rides. The very last time that has stayed in my memory fresh as yesterday was when we drove to the Two Rivers’ State Park to watch the fishermen. It was raining softly in a nice, fall afternoon. The trees had turned color; their reflection in the water looked more like a giant Persian rug. As we drove slowly around the park, we found a lonely fisherman sitting in his boat, holding the fishing rod patiently, looking down. We decided to park nearby and watch him, hoping that he would catch a fish.
Mom was very quiet. We watched the man for a while before I asked: Why so quiet, Mom?
Mom didn’t even take her gaze away from the lake when she answered me in a serene voice: “waiting to see if he catches anything,” and continued to look afar, into the distance. I wondered if she was really watching the man. Was Mom thinking about the days that my siblings along with her were camping in this same park several times a year? They made fire at nights and went fishing in the evenings. Those of us, who didn’t like to camp overnight, joined the dinner; sat around the fire; sipped on hot, green tea; laughed; and talked into the nights. I regretted to be one of those who never joined the overnight camping events. I wish I could turn the time back. The thoughts of not having a chance to go camping with Mom, ever again, sent a deep throbbing pain into my heart. I felt like crying like a baby, I wanted to hold Mom’s soft shoulder, cry like a baby for the precious time that I had lost …………
I got out of the car and walked around for a minute, then I took some pictures and asked mom to smile. She tried to put a smile on her face, just a tiny smile that brightened her face, tainted with a cloud of sadness… the chemo running through her veins… I sat back in the car and we both watched the fisherman in a complete silence.
I kept driving south on the same street until I found the emergency room. The neon light was bright red with the arrow flashing, pointing to the emergency room entrance.
I sat in the car and tried to breath. The air was heavy and thick. Everything seemed eccentric. It seemed like the earth had been covered with a deep, heavy blanket of fog, with everything floating in a murky, mysterious atmosphere.
It wasn’t snowing anymore but the reflection of the neon red emergency signs on the snow covered trees, flashed like a pool of bloody arms sticking up, trying to reach the sky.
My heart was pounding. I tried to get out of the car but I could not move. My legs were weak and shaky. I felt sick and nauseous. I wasn’t ready to face the painful reality; I was afraid of seeing what was waiting for me.
Moments later, I saw someone got out of a car a few rows away from where I was. My brother in law, Moe, looked skinnier than ever, walking slowly towards the emergency room. His bushy, gray mustache looked red under the light.
A little later, another shadow moving in a slow motion on the snow-filled ground. It was Farida, my sister, walking by my car. I could hear the snow crunching under her footsteps while she was walking. She was following the same direction as Moe. Her head down, the red light flashing on her figure, blending her in with the shadows of the parked cars and the trees …
I stayed in the car for a long time until the windows covered with fog and a layer of thin ice blocked the outside view from me. Not sure if I were cold or not, whether I had a coat on or I did not, but I do remember the fresh snow crushing underneath my feet, echoing in the stillness of the night.
The emergency room was the first door to my left as I entered the hallway; it opened directly into a waiting room. The receptionist was sitting right next to the entrance of the waiting room and as soon as she saw me, she stood up. I looked around the room. The room was full with people. Supposedly, my siblings and their families… but I only recognized a couple of the faces, the rest were deeply hidden under a strange mist of a yellow-gray fog that had covered all over their heads and shoulders, I could only see their knees and the armrests of the chairs. Strangely, I couldn’t even tell one from the other. As I stood there in the middle of the room, someone held my arm and told me something. I turned around, saw the receptionist, and followed her through a long, empty, hallway covered with white curtains on both sides of the walls. There was a strong, nauseating smell of chemicals and a sickening, penetrating odor of Iodoform that had filled the air. I heard a muffled sound of a machine beeping along with someone talking in a distance.
I continued to follow the woman, feeling my heart pounding heavier and faster by each step I take forward. Everything was in a slow motion, like an out of the body experience. It was as a nightmare that you hope it ends up soon and you wake up and laugh at it or you thank God it did not happen in real life.
Unfortunately, it was real that night and there was nothing good for me to wake up to.
The hallway ended into a wide room with empty beds and chairs all over. There were nurses and technicians in the room. I tried to find mom. In the center of the room, there was Mom laying there on a bed, looking much smaller than I saw her a few hours ago. I rushed to her and cried, “Mom, mom, momma…”
Mom moved a little bit but could say nothing. I held Mom’s hand, leaned on her shoulder and cried: “say something, mom, say something…”
It reminded me of the day, several weeks ago, when I was with mom in the hospital. For more than 24 hours, Mom had not said a single word. In the morning of the second day, after spending the night with her, I was getting ready to go to work. I stood next to mom’s bed and said: “mom, say something, please, say something.”
Mom opened her eyes wide and said it loudly: “I love you!”
I could not believe it; my heart was melting with joy. I laughed and cheered, Mom said she loves me. Mom talked. Mom is going to be ok. A nurse, who was working on some charts in the far end of the room, turned to me saying, “There you go, she made your day!”
That day, I was full of joy all day and felt blessed thinking of mom saying that she loved me and more importantly, she talked again. I assumed she‘d be ok. She can talk, so she will be ok.
But, tonight at the emergency room, unfortunately, I heard nothing. I begged mom, “mom say something, talk to me, Mommy jaan, say something….” but mom could not say anything. She did hear me and tried to talk but it sounded more like a very soft moan.
Someone said, “Did you hear, mom recognized her.”
I looked up and realized two of my sisters were sitting just one-step away from Mom’s bed. I had not seen them until then. Seemed like they both had cried, my sister, Farida, was nodding: “I heard Mom, I heard Kakoo jaan…. she knows Nash is here.”
It was a room-full of nurses, techs, doctors, my sisters, and my beautiful Mom who was laying there so weak and so helpless. She looked little. Her eyes were closed and her skin color seemed brown, dark yellowish brown.
My heart was sinking with the burden of grief. Mom was dying. I cried momma is dying…
Someone came to take mom’s bed away. She told me something but I didn’t understand so I followed her. As she was rolling the bed down the hall, she turned to me saying:
“You don’t need to come!”
I followed her pretending that I did not hear her command. Soon, a few nurses and techs joined her, hurried in and out of the elevator, rushing mom towards a room down the hallway. I was running along with them, keeping an eye on Mom.
Once in the room, in matter of seconds, several nurses rushed around mom, trying to role Mom to the bed, yelling at me: “LEAVE, YOU, LEAVE NOW.”
I hid behind the door, hoping they will not see me but they yelled again:
“Leave! You shouldn’t be here!”
I squeezed myself behind the door and stayed there. As they were busy switching Mom from the stretcher to the bed, they called someone by the name of Kim:
“Kim! She‘s not leaving, get her out of here,”
They were rushing to change mom’s shirt to the hospital gown. The shirt that I had put on mom hours ago that night landed flying over to the brown couch by the window. It was as if I was watching a horror movie. They were sticking needles and tubes all over mom’s arms and neck. The nurse, Kim, came to me and said:
“You need to leave now,” Her voice was calm and solemn.
As she looked at me crying, begging her to let me stay, her face turned sad and gloomy, saying: “You really can’t be here, please, we’ll take care of your Mom,”
“What if mom says something you won’t know if she says in Persian, I need to be here.”
Mom was in no condition to say anything. We both knew that. Kim looked at me with a deep sadness in her eyes, and nodded, “Okay, stay right here and don’t move.”
The blue tank top….
It was the tank top I had changed mom into just a few hours ago. Momma’s shirt was wet; the nurse-aid had spilled juice on Mom while trying to help her take a sip. It was such a sad experience to change Momma’s shirt.
I held mom like a baby in my arms, her head was going to the right and left as I was changing. I asked Sahar to help me with the feeding tubes that seemed to be all over Mom’s upper body.
It took me a long time to get Momma’s shirt changed but it took the nurses only seconds to take it off and send it flying all the way across the room to land on the brown couch.
Seconds later, mom was in a washed-out blue hospital gown laying on her back, her eyes closed, and her skin shiny brown…..she was barely breathing.
Everything in that room was in a constant move and motion in a very strange way; everything seemed to be floating around mom. People were floating coming in and going out of the room. They were touching Mom, sticking needles into her neck, needles into her arms, pushing the tubes in and out of her nose and her mouth, they were all over Momma, and here I was pinned to the wall, watching everything with a horror, not knowing where and when would it end, crying my beautiful Momma…..
I am standing afar, watching everything from a distance thinking it is a very sad movie. Rubbing my eyes to perhaps see better, as I was watching things in a haze of heavy air, like an out of body experience.
Finally, there were lesser people in the room, much lesser activities; everything had slowed down. People disappeared, one by one; I did have a chance to get closer to Mom but I could not. My legs were heavily glued on to the floor, I felt empty, numb, and disoriented. It seemed more like a nightmare than a real life experience. I wished to wake up soon, tell Mom of my horrible nightmare, and tell her that I am so lucky to have her healthy and happy with me, and to love her forever and…
The doctor came into the room and walked straight towards me. I was halfway behind the door, tried to come out and gather myself. A few nurses stood behind him. He was holding a clipboard, the lab results in his hand and a gloomy look on his face.
They all looked at me silently … and I knew that they had a bad news for me. I knew that!
I looked at them one by one; Kim was standing a little back. They all looked sad as I wept in agony, saying no words. I had nothing to say and I did not want to hear anything either. I squeezed my fingernails deep into my arms and held myself tight, prayed quietly, please God, please God…
The doctor opened his mouth to say something but then stopped. Moments later, he tried again as he shook his head, made a very sad face and pointed to the papers:
“your mom …” clearing his throat, continued: “she has internal bleeding…she will not recover, she’s too weak,” his voice was cracking as he kept going: “her organs are giving up on her…”
He bit his lower lip, kept his eyes on my face, and waited.
Every word he said had hit me like a hammer on my head. I felt crushed. My heart was hurting deeply.
The doctor along with the nurses continued to look at me with those sad, teary eyes and waited to see what I would say. I knew what they were telling me. I remember a week ago, during a meeting with all my siblings and relatives when the doctors met with us, they told us mom would not survive, if we have to take off the life support, would we all agree. I do not know who said what but I remember saying: “if any of you agrees with this, I’d take you accountable for killing mom, forever.”
The doctors looked at each other saying: “well, there you go…” and that was the end of the family meeting.
Tonight, when they told me it is over, as heavy and as bloody as my heart was, I nodded, Okay. The doctor sighed, extended his hand and held my elbow, helping me to get out from behind the door. I walked towards the waiting room where my siblings were waiting but could not feel my feet touching the floor.
If I could cry blood, I would, there was no end to my misery……………
At the waiting room, there were about twenty some of my family members. My heart was pounding. It is not going to be good. It is not going to be peaceful. I know my family.
As the doctor reached the waiting room, he slowed down his pace quiet considerably, almost like a crawl, the nurses and I following him. Everyone was talking at the waiting room, TV was on but nobody was watching, kids were walking in and out of the room but they, too, as soon as they saw us, pressed themselves against the walls, knowing something was happening.
As we walked in, everyone went quiet; some immediately looked at the doctor and then turned to me with questioning eyes. . I wondered if they are mad at me. I went to the far right corner of the room and kind of hid myself from all of them, but there was hardly anywhere to hide.
A thick air had filled the room immediately. I looked at some of the faces and thought somehow they were mad at me but I said nothing. It took the doctor a while to say what he was trying to explain but then I heard some opinions and arguments and some voices talking over each other and I know what they were going through. It was hard for any of us to accept there is nothing else we could do to save Mom.
I sat in a corner of the room, tried to digest everything that was happening. Tried to make reason out of all this but all I knew was that it was over. Mom was gone! She’ll be with us for a maximum of 24 hours, the doctors said!
I went back to the room where mom was taking her last breaths. Others came and left, they walked in the hallways, drank coffee and tea, or just aimlessly wondered around. It was so unusual. Every time when the family was together, mom was in the center of the whole thing; she would sit there without talking much, she would smile and would look around and enjoy the crowd around her. She was proud of the children. She always said: “Babait aaga mayBood, shomaRa deeda, chiqa khush mayShud,” if your dad were here, he would have been so happy seeing you all.
If we asked Mom: “baray SaalGeraE taan Chee MayKhaeen?” What do you want for your birthday?
She would always say that she doesn’t want anything, “I have everything,” but she wanted the family to be together:
“kul-le-taan jaamShawain” all of you get together.
She enjoyed having the family together, having food, music, and dance passed midnight. We had a party almost every Saturday, mostly with music, food, with many of our friends in addition to the family members. I always got tired and left around midnight but mom would continue to party, sitting on her special black leather recliner, clapping with the music for hours passed midnight.
It was different tonight. Mom wasn’t sitting among us; she wasn’t watching us; wasn’t smiling at us, feeling proud of her large family. Tonight, it was hard for us to accept that we were all together but she was the only one missing.
TO BE CONTINUED
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