by Mimi Karabulut I take a seat, but this table is all wrong. It’s too old for the room. The room has a modern feel to it, but the table is creaky and worn and chipping at its corners. I want to sit somewhere else. I want to protest the meeting. I want to tell them they haven’t been trying hard enough, they need to do more, they need to fix her, but I stay quiet. It’s not like I have the gumption to speak up anyway.
We have something important to discuss, they say, so I sit at the decrepit table and lay my head down.
White coats trickle into the room and swirl around the table in waves of pristinely bleached uniforms. I feel them bumping and nudging around one another, around the table. More arrive, and now too many doctors are in this minuscule room and they’re crowded around me and this ancient table, a table that rocks as I breathe in and out. I hear it THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, and I need to get out, get out of this room with all these people. More enter, and now the door is blocked. We’re trapped in this room, and I don’t know why there have to be so many people, I need to get out because I can’t breathe and I’m stuck in this room with this rocking table.
I cover my face and breathe. I lean to my side. A stranger touches my shoulder, I shake her touch off. Since when is it polite for strangers to touch me? Since never.
I turn to raise my hand supposing that’s the thing to do. The table THUMP-THUMPs and rests.
“Yes,” the head doctor says.
“Can we try for a heart transplant?”
“In your mother’s condition, it’s inadvisable to operate.”
The table THUMP-THUMPs.
“But you can do it, right?”
“We would have to wait for the heart. That could take months and it is likely the lack of oxygen to her brain affects her present functioning.”
A doctor shifts his feet and nudges the table into my chest. The table relaxes with a THUMP-THUMP.
I perk up.
“There’s got to be something we can do. She’s only 58. What’s Plan B? C? D? This is the best hospital in the state. You can bring her out of this. You said it yourself, you’ve been practicing for 22 years and you’ve never lost a patient.”
The head doctor takes a deep breath and his eyes shift down.
“I’m graduating in the fall. You said you’d do everything to make sure she saw me walk.”
He raises his eyes and says, “When you brought her to us on Saturday, we were cautiously optimistic that she would recover.”
“Let’s have Betsy explain from here.”
I know what this means. I shudder and force the table to THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, and then yell, “No! All Betsy knows how to do is put her hand all up on my shoulder. She needs to learn some social boundaries.”
I glare at Betsy who shyly smiles at me. What kind of social worker smiles at a girl waiting for her mother to wake up after four days? I smash my fists on the table and the head doctor’s face pivots. I don’t understand why his brows twist. I’m standing and rocking the table, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP.
“We’ve done everything we can for her.”
“Pardon?” I say.
The table pauses.
“She would have needed a heart transplant a month ago to have a chance to live. Without life support, her heart can’t function on its own.”
“So then we get her another heart.”
“The waiting list is too long. We can keep her on life support, but we have more pressing concerns,” he says.
My anger pauses as I shirk into my seat. I grip the table for support.
“Your mother has been non-responsive to reflex tests.”
Betsy touches my shoulder. I shake her hand off and grip the sides of table and begin rocking it back and forth, back and forth, until its rhythm knocks the ground for every breath I take. It’s a THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP, THUMP-THUMP with a quickening pace and they glance at each other with those eyes I know mean nervous but I only want them to know that they need to do more to bring back my mom.
I close my eyes and rock the table again and again as I say, you need to bring her back, you need to do more. I repeat this again and look up at the somber white coats and whispers to nearby colleagues and solitary hands over their eyes. I don’t want their pity. I want them to save my mom.
“Are you familiar with DNR?” the head doctor says.
I stop. The room is dead. I say the words they need to hear. I leave.
My little brother is crying on the floor, blocking the entrance to Mom’s room. I go to touch his shoulder since that seems to be the thing to do now. I rub his back instead. I don’t want to be another Betsy.
They gather us in her room. My mom will die soon. I’m not sure what to do. Do I stand and watch? Do I cry in the waiting room? Do I hold her hand? But her hand is swollen. The edema is severe, they cautioned me.
Our hands form a circle over her body as I’m reminded that my Aunt is Catholic. We watch my mother as the nurse narrates the oncoming heart attack, but I hear the table thumping faster and faster, desperately grasping for life and trying so hard to work, but it’s going too fast. I need to calm its rhythm but our hands are locked and so I turn my head towards the room — and the nurse calls Mom’s time of death. The THUMP-THUMPs quiet. The room is silent. The white coats are gone. The meeting is over. My mother is dead. About the Author:Mimi Karabulut is a writer in Chicago. She’s appeared in 121words and is working on her first book.