You & I Have Seizures
She wakes up in her bed, laying on her stomach with her head turned away from the soft light filling her bedroom. The bones in her body feel like brittle balsam, and her hips already fill with a tight soreness. She wishes the pain would go away, every day when she wakes up. She never has a good night’s sleep, worry fills her every waking and sleeping moment. Are my children safe? she thinks. How will I pay my bills without money in the bank? Is my daughter awake, and did she sleep without any seizures? She knows the answer to this question, she has trained herself to remain alert, to know every sound and movement her daughter makes in case the seizures return.
She gets out of bed, her soft and satiny nightgown clinging to every curve of her body. She grabs her green housecoat with her right hand and slips it over the nightgown. She is not quite awake, not rested, not able to make the pain go away. She walks out of the bedroom and shuffles her feet along the carpet into the living room. Her daughter is already at the dining room table, having finished her bowl of cereal and coloring in another book purchased from the dollar store. She walks past her daughter and opens the cabinet above the stove in the kitchen, retrieving the pills for stopping the seizures. A glass of milk is poured, if they have milk, and she gives the glass and the pills to her daughter. Her daughter swallows, the glass is quickly emptied and returned to the kitchen sink for cleaning later in the afternoon.
She makes coffee for herself, and opens the refrigerator for the heavy whipping cream she enjoys with her drink. If there is heavy whipping cream in the refrigerator. It’s already the second week of the month and the money is gone. There is never enough money, there are too many bills and so many things cost so much. If there is milk, her daughter has it with her pills. If there is heavy whipping cream, coffee is more enjoyable. If there was money, there wouldn’t be any worries.
She shuffles from the kitchen to the dining room table, every step a painful one because of the bone spurs in her heels. She carefully sits at the table, the pain in her hips making it hard to slide into the chair like she used to. She does not have her teeth in yet, but she still smiles at her daughter and talks with her, praising her coloring in the book from the dollar store. Sunlight comes into the dining room, spilling warm and wondrous light against the yellow walls. She looks out the vertical blinds that are turned enough for her to look outside; she only sees the driveway of the condominium complex, the occasional resident walking his or her dog. She looks at the dog and think of her son and his dog, hoping that he is okay and that maybe she will see him soon.
She thinks of her children often, especially her daughter sitting across the table. Has it already been seventeen years since the day? She is thankful that her daughter is still alive, but she worries how they will pay for the dental and medical bills, the groceries, gas for the car, any activity to get them out of the house. Her daughter does not like noise and loves to spend time in the mountains; she likes the mountains and spending time with her daughter. She wishes that they could drive to the hot springs in the mountains, the sulphur springs would help her body feel better and soften the omnipresent pain. She is convinced that the springs would help feel all right, and her daughter doesn’t seem to have the seizures when she is happy and away from the noise. Maybe if they drive to her post office box, today there will a check from somewhere that will get them out of the house.
She worries about her oldest son, praying that he is careful and doesn’t get any diseases. He needs to take care of his sister if something happens, because God knows that his father and brother won’t give her the attention and care that he needs. She wishes that he would visit more often, he makes her laugh and takes them out of the house for groceries or lunch at a restaurant. She is thankful that her son has a job, it is not good to be out of work and he needs to be able to support himself and his sister if anything should happen. She prays that he remains celibate, despite his lifestyle choice. He can’t get sick, because then who will take of her daughter?
She is thankful that her two sons are friends with each other, her other son has had a rough life and needs people in his life that won’t lead him to the same temptations. He doesn’t need to go back to jail, he needs to be a responsible man and help his older brother take care of their sister. She wishes he didn’t have so many tattoos. She wishes that he would come by and visit more often, she doesn’t understand why he hates her so much. She wasn’t a bad mother, she did the best she could. She misses seeing her son, she wishes that maybe he could also help her and his sister out more. She would really like to visit the springs, but she doesn’t have enough money. She wishes her sons would provide more.
If she had a dollar to spend every week, she would play the lottery. She has played the lottery many times before, but never winning anything more than $45. If only her sons would play the lottery, she knows they would win, then she wouldn’t have to worry about money or not having enough for her daughter if something were to happen.
She slowly lifts herself out of her chair and shuffles into the kitchen to rinse her daughter’s cereal bowl in the sink. Another cup of coffee poured, and she surveys her clean kitchen. The kitchen is always clean, as it was the day before and as it will be again tomorrow. There is little money to do anything else but keep the house tidy, and no one else is around to do all of the work. She wishes that her sons were in the house with her, because the housecleaning hurts her back and she would like a little extra sleep while her children keep each other company and possibly leave her alone.
She looks over the wall of her kitchen into the living room and watches her daughter watching television. She doesn’t have any money for cable, but the complex provides basic service with local channels and a few extra ones that she has never heard of. She and her daughter keep themselves entertained with movie they borrow from the library, because there is little money to do anything else but watch free videos. She lets her daughter watch all of her movies on the television over and over again, because they bring happiness and provide entertainment. The videos distract her daughter. The videos keep the seizures away.
She shuffles into the bathroom and looks at herself in the mirror. She decided to grow out her hair that she has kept short for twenty years. The hair is thin and slowly greying, and she keeps it fastened at the back of her head with barrettes in no particular order. Her teeth are soaking in their plastic container, and she hates using the adhesive because it scratches the inside of her mouth. She never thought that she would lose her teeth while still so young; she was once a dental hygienist before all of this. She never thought that she would be diabetic, either. She never records her blood sugar, she only takes her pills at the intervals dictated by a doctor at the free clinic. Before all of this, she was young and vibrant and carefree. Now she takes care of her daughter and waits for money to come in the mail.
She is dressed in her clothes, all of them soft and velvet and larger than the year before. She applies her make-up in case she and her daughter leave the house, a light metallic hue around the eyes and a coral pink for the lips. She gently rubs blush into her cheeks with a brush and cleans her ears with two cotton swabs in each. If she wears a perfume, she will spray on Paloma Picasso or Dune. Her oldest son bought her lots of Paloma Picasso once for Christmas, and she still has the bottles from that holiday almost ten years ago. She loves the smell of lavender, but her son only buys the bath soaps, and it is too costly to buy the oil.
She calls her oldest son to see if he made it to work alright, and he tells her that he will call her later because he has work to do. She wants to know when she can spend time with him again. He tells her that he will call her over the weekend and spend an afternoon with her. She smiles because she loves her son and wants to do anything but stay in the house. She worries about him.
She calls her second child and leaves messages on his machine, wondering how he is doing and if she can see him anytime soon. He doesn’t want to spend time with her because she talks about his dad in a way that makes him upset. She doesn’t see her son’s perspective, and instead reminds him on a voice message that she loves him. She never knows when she will ever see her second child, and she worries every day that he may get in a fight or hang out with someone that will get him in trouble and back in prison.
She believes that her two sons don’t spend enough time together, that they are each other’s positive role models and need to be there for their sister if anything should happen.
She doesn’t have her parents around anymore, and she has no idea what happened to her sister after their mother’s death and subsequent battle over the estate with the cousins from the East. She only has photos of her family, and nothing else to leave as a legacy for her children. Her mother’s estate was reduced to lawyers’ fees after the costly battle, and she worried that her children wouldn’t be able to attend college without their grandmother’s estate. She worries that her children don’t save like her mother did, that there will never be any money in case of an emergency or if something should happen.
She holds her daughter’s hand to stabilize her balance as they leave the apartment and walk toward the car. The weather outside is bright and sunny, but there is so little to do when you have no money and everything is so far away. She starts the car and notices how little gas is left in the tank, but that maybe, just maybe, there will be money waiting at her post office box. She drives them to the post office, and she checks her mail. There is no check, only a bill for the mailbox and the same monthly bills that get paid with the beginning of every new month. The money goes in and out so quickly that nothing ever remains, and time is spent in constant prayer and daily travels to the mailbox. She would love to win the lottery, she would love to have money right now to take herself and her daughter to the springs. But there is no money, and there isn’t enough gas in the car to take them away from the city, so back to the house they go for movies and afternoon television.
The afternoons seem to pass quickly because she, and sometimes her daughter, will take a nap for an hour in the living room or on the bed. She gets up in time to always watch her favorite shows, and then the television is relinquished to her daughter for syndicated programs that provide entertainment and necessary distractions from the seizures.
It is now evening, and dinner will consist of whatever leftovers were saved from the leftovers from the night before. She prepares soup a lot, it lasts long during the weeks without money. She knows her daughter doesn’t like leftovers, but there are so few choices when there isn’t enough money to spoil hunger with all sorts of wonderful food in restaurants. She ladles out the soup into a bowl for her daughter, also pouring a glass of milk for the evening pills. Her daughter makes a face at the leftover soup, but it is still consumed. She tries to eat some of the soup, but her nerves prevent her from eating. It is hard to eat when you always worry.
She hears the phone ring, her friend that takes her and her daughter out to dinner on occasion or invites them over for a home-cooked meal. She listens to her friend talk about the pains of going through a divorce, and she offers her advice based on a day that she has carried for 23 years. Her sons no longer want to hear about her opinion of their father, but she has a captive audience with her friend who wants to hear it all. The two feed off one another for an hour until parting for the evening. She hangs up the phone and watches television with her daughter.
She puts her daughter to bed and kisses her good-night. She turns the lights off and plays a CD to help her daughter fall asleep quickly. She leaves the door open enough to remain alert, in case of the seizures.
She watches late-night television until she can no longer stay awake. She shuffles into the bathroom to remove her teeth and get ready for bed. The nightgown is on, the sheets pulled back. She slowly gets into bed and wishes that her oldest son was there with her, to massage her lower back and help relieve the pain. She wishes that she didn’t hurt so much. She wishes that she could make it all go away. She wishes for the money to be there in the morning. She prays her daughter does not have any seizures. She is so tired.
She goes to bed, the pain subsiding as she slowly falls asleep.
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