“I know it’s hard to keep an open heart when even friends seem out to harm you, but if you could heal a broken heart, wouldn’t time be out to charm you?” -Guns N’ Roses, November Rain
That song is one of my favourites, bringing back memories of listening to it & Sweet Child O’ Mine (another favourite) with my mom as a kid. Despite being almost unbearably sad, it’s amazing- there’s no doubt about that. Whenever I get the blues or the mean reds, the haunting refrain of “Do you need some time on your own?” and it’s variants play through my head ceaselessly.
Yesterday, I woke up to a missed call from my mom. I’ve mentioned before that I call my mom far more than the stereotypical college student, but it seemed strange to wake up to at nine o’clock on a Sunday morning. I didn’t necessarily worry, but I found it peculiar.
I knew something was wrong when she replied to my “Why’d you call?” with “I didn’t want to you to worry….” That’s the phrase she saves for situations of “Something’s the matter, but I don’t want you freaking out, so here goes.”
She proceeded to explain that my grandmother had been taken to the hospital in the early hours of the morning. I couldn’t tell you what exactly is the problem (my family tends to shield me from details, terrified I’ll pass out and be the next one at the ER), but I was assured that she’s fine and just needs to stay for a few days of treatment.
I’ve had three of my grandparents suffer through cancer, and only one- the one in question- has come through it. The fourth, her husband/my grandfather, has had back pain (reminiscent of Jack Kennedy’s) since before I was born, coupled with heart and joint problems. Long story short, I should be used to calls like this.
I’ve always been the strong one in these situations, the one able to stay focused on the “big picture” and help everyone figure out what needs to be done. I’m too prone to fainting to help with the actual doctoring, so I take over the behind-the-scenes work: who needs to be called? what needs to be taken care of in the interim?
I’ve gotten to that point in this situation. “Mom, call the local florist and order some daffodils for Nanny- we’re Welsh, we should celebrate St. David’s Day, and they’ll bring sunshine to her room!” “She has a stuffed rabbit at home, I’ll send one to her as a get well present.” “What’s the number of the hospital so I can call and check in?” “Here’s a list of foods Pop likes so you can make him food for the next few days.”
That wasn’t the case initially. For the first time possibly ever, I freaked out at this sort of news. All I could think at the time was “I’m not there.” There’s absolutely nothing I could feasibly do if I were there, really. Yet, the fact that, even if there was, I couldn’t, terrified me. I think a part of me is terrified that something really bad is going to happen at a time like now- mid-midterms- when leaving is next to impossible, and that I’ll be absolutely helpless from here. I love being here in Gettysburg, and there’s plenty about my hometown to despise, but situations like this make me question whether I should have stayed…. I know that no one would even hint at suggesting I leave school, and I know I’d ultimately be miserable if I did, but there was the briefest of moment….
Thankfully I’ve calmed down significantly. I’m back to my old “let’s plan everything we possibly can because focusing on details makes everything easier” self. Please keep my family in your prayers, if prayers are your thing- we’d all really appreciate it.