Snowstorm Cady Grau
Everything is white. White walls, white doors, white sheets, white scrubs. I feel like I’m in a winter snowstorm, even though it’s June, like if I raise my hand in front of my face, I won’t be able to see it through all the white. My mother is white too, a sickly shade in comparison to her normal sun-kissed complexion. She blends in with her sheets, and I take her hand, because if I don’t, I’m afraid she’ll be swallowed up and disappear forever into the storm. She keeps asking about the dogs. They were with her in the accident, and she thinks we’re all lying when we say they weren’t killed in the wreck.
“I want to see Buddy,” she tells me.
“You’ll see him when you get out of here,” I say for the third time that day. I tell her to drink, and offer the childish sippy cup to my middle-aged mother. With an arm frail and pasty, she takes it, and drinks.
I look up at the television. Oprah’s on an hour earlier because of the time difference, but I can’t watch, because I keep thinking about how bent the guardrail was when I drove through twenty-four hours after her, like it was made of putty rather than metal. I think about our van, the only car I can remember our family owning, crushed like a toy stepped on, waiting in a junkyard for its final destruction. I try to decide whether I think the
guardrail or the van won in that match-up, but I realize that’s childish. There are no winners here.
My grandmother comes into the hospital room, flighty as usual, and I can still hear her shrill exclamations from a few hours before, when, though the sky had been an unnatural shade of green and the wind was whipping around our vehicle, a tornado was nowhere close to us. “Oh my God! I can feel the tornado pulling us in!” To which I thought, calmly, “Aren’t we already in one?” I tell my mother this story when my
grandmother leaves, hoping to make her laugh. She does, but then grips her side in pain, and I think it’s cruel that even when she tries to laugh,
to escape the horror of the situation for just a moment, she can’t. And
suddenly I envy her, and the sheets and the walls, for being able to sink into all the white and lose all definition of what is happening here. I want to do the same, to fall into the snowstorm, but then I think of all the other rooms in the hospital, all the other people standing by a loved one’s
bedside, and I think maybe I’m already a part of it, a frail, frightened,
suffering being trapped among all the others, a snowflake told I’m unique, when really I look just the same.