I'm kneeling next to a large queen-sized bed with a metal frame. The yellowish cream blanket stares up at me from between my hands. All I can really do is stare back. The blue-gray walls of my home seem to bulge inward; although, that could just be an effect of the tears in my eyes.
A few inches away the blanket bunches around a person who is breathing but won’t wake up. The blanket barely moves. The person is my mom, and the reason she’s laying there are the pills that used to be in the sterile orange bottle still standing straight on the dresser a few feet away.
I can hear sirens flaring outside of the window, so I start tapping the fingers on one of my hands while the other hand repeatedly scratches my arm. We didn’t call the ambulance or the police. My step-dad knew mom wouldn’t want us to; she would be afraid that my sister and I would be taken. So, he left me to look after my mom while he went to work.
|Photo by Asa B. Strong|
I shuffle closer to my mom’s face with my ear turned towards her mouth. I can still hear a sound like waves gently crashing against a shore. Breath.
I blunder through the house looking for the phone before sprinting back to the room. I get in position to perform CPR just in case. I learned it in junior high because I thought it would be fun not because I thought I would need to use it.
There is nothing nearby to tap on, but the scratching resumes and soon a small, rosy ridge rises from my skin before starting to drip blood. I reach for the tissue box on the dresser, but it’s too far away. I still don’t move.
I spend the next thirty-three minutes monitoring her breathing from up close. It returns to normal and doesn’t dip down again. I get up and walk over to the dresser, constantly glancing back, even though I know the breathing wouldn’t be too far away to hear. I wipe away the blood that has been collecting on my arm and hurry back to the bed.
She doesn’t stop breathing again. I end up calling 911 anyway.