Maternity Leave

He was almost to the hospital lobby when the blackout happened.  Fortunately, as does nearly every hospital, Queen’s has a back-up system.  He knew this and stood there in the dark waiting for the generator to kick in.

After maybe fifteen seconds, the whole hospital lit up again, and he resumed his way to the entrance.  Odd. It was as if everyone had been frozen in time and then suddenly thawed.  Reanimated this way, it was hard to tell when you were inside the hospital that most of O‘ahu had ground to a standstill.

Making his to the Queen Emma Tower, he rode the elevator to the 10th floor. His mother had been here for two weeks now, post-stroke. It looked as if she would be discharged soon, probably for more intensive therapy either at home, or more likely at another facility better suited for treating her now that it appeared she would survive.

Just as he exited the elevator, the power went out again.  He could see out the windows, by the faint light of a sliver of silver moon, that Honolulu was absolutely black.

Again it was as if everyone and everything had frozen, waiting for light to allow them to move.  This he did not need.  He knew his way to his mother’s room by heart.

Opening the door, he stared into the darkness.  Because his mother had lost her speech and was barely conscious anyway, he could not ask her to direct him to her by voice, so he sort of pushed his feet out in front of him, one after another, sliding toward her bedside.

When he felt his foot come in contact with what he believed was the leg of the chair, he reached for it, felt it to be sure, and then slid into the seat.

Where was the light?  Surely the hospital had a back-up for the back-up.  People could be dying here without the electricity it took to keep all of the machinery running.

His mother needed only the bed at this point.  There were no more monitors beeping incessantly.  When his mother had been in ICU and then for the first few days in this bed, he’d sat there holding her hand, watching the readouts of pulse, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and on and on.  The sheer number of digital numerals dazed him. He’d never cut it as a nurse, he thought, having to read the measures, the meaning of all of this.

How many nights had it been now?  He would sit there watching all the electronic activity, speaking softly to his mother and squeezing her hand gently. Waiting for words.  Waiting for some kind of response, some kind of recognition.

It had been two weeks, fourteen days, he thought. Well, she’d carried him for nine months, so coming to visit her for a few weeks was the least he could do.

Where was the light?  Surely people were losing their lives now.

“Mama?” he whispered.  No answer.

He groped along the blanket for her hand, located it, then took it in his own.

“Hi, Mama, it’s me.  How are you today?”

No answer.

“I just wanted to stop by and say hi.”

Silence.

“The power went out, Mama, and it’s so, so dark as here.  Queen’s emergency power went on, but then that went out too.  I’m worried patients are in trouble here.”

Silence.

He stared toward the doorway.  There was no activity at all.  Geez this hospital, he thought.  They’d better get their act together.

Suddenly the lights flickered, died, then came on again, strong.

Blinded, he closed his eyes, shutting his lids tight.

When he opened them again, he was staring at the ceiling.

“Mister Lee?” someone said, the voice sounding very far away.  “Mister Lee?”

He realized it was a voice on his cell phone.  He reached for the phone and sat up.  He was sitting on the floor of his living room.

“Yes, hi, this is Mister Lee.”

“Oh, that’s good, Mister Lee.  I thought we’d lost the connection.  As I said, we need for you to come to the hospital to sign the release forms.  When you do, please let us know where you would like us to take your mom.”

“Where to take her?”

“Yes, Mister Lee.  If you don’t have a mortuary selected yet, we can keep her here until you find one.  Then you can let us know and we’ll take her there.”

It came back to him.  “She’s dead. My mom is dead.”

“Yes, Mister Lee, I’m sorry.  As I said, she stopped breathing about an hour after you left tonight.  I’m so sorry, but we weren’t able to resuscitate her.”

“Yes, yes.  I’m coming down right now.  I’ll be there in half an hour or so.”

How strange, he thought, this evening. The drive to Queen’s Hospital seemed like a dream.  How strange, he thought, that he would never drive this way again to see her.

* * * * *

Aloha #WriterThursday, I hope you are well. Today’s #WritingPrompt is

motherhood

Use it to inspire a piece of writing and then post that piece on your site and link back to me, or simply leave it as a comment below. I would love to read it : )

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