by Lance Isidore Catedral
(This piece first appeared in the anthology Through the Eyes of a Healer.)
He cried like a baby, and maybe that was what he was in his mother’s eyes.
With her eyes closed, she looked like she was sleeping. On her arms and limbs were multiple bruises; they started appearing just six months ago, like random pencil blots on a skin canvas. Then came the pallor, unexplained weakness, and a feeling that something wrong was going on. She couldn’t put a name into it until months after her descent into being bedridden, just around the time when her doctor, after seeing her lab tests, to her she had leukemia.
The boy was fourteen, but he had the eyes of an old man who has been through a lot. He cared for her mother, brought her to the hospital for intermittent sessions of blood transfusions, put up with the long queues at the Blood Bank, and even pleaded with the Social Services staff to give her free antibiotics.
On Mother’s Day, he was still a boy — soft wisps of hair just starting to grow on his armpits, his voice barely beginning to crack — but already mother-less. Her mother’s blood infection was so profound that even the strongest antibiotics were rendered powerless. Her platelet count was too low as to graciously permit spontaneous bleeding to happen anywhere in her body: her eyes, her lungs, her brain. That was what killed her: a ruptured vessel, perhaps, that decided to snap in her cerebrum. She was gone in minutes.
As he grieved and sobbed and wished that this was all but a dream, IV lines were still attached to her mother’s veins made fragile by many pressure to the bare acceptable minimum were dripping in futility.
It was just another day at the hospital. They boy had to bring his mother’s body home. He had been through a lot, surely he could handle her mother’s funeral too.