CHAPTER 2 Photographer At The Ready

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copyright 2018 Chris Smith   All rights reserved.

"I will chronicle my demise for you so you can see what I did not."


Dad walked back through the maze of hallways.

"There was an admin gal looking for you. She needs your insurance card," I said.

Dad was the one with health insurance, thanks to the length of his U.S. Military service at the time he retired. Mom was covered in the past but only when he was on Active Duty. He had discovered a few hours earlier that Mom was eligible for health insurance through military insurance when he had retired. We had no idea. To say we were excited would be putting it mildly. But Mom wasn't automatically covered. Dad had to sign up for it online and pay a monthly fee.

Lucky for us he'd signed up for it right before we brought Mom in to the Hospital. Now Mom had health insurance! It would be important when the hospital bills started racking up. Maybe it would be the only miracle of the day. Maybe it was enough.

"Oh, okay. I ran into two people from work," Dad said.


"Yeah, it's old home week here tonight," Dad said.

There was comradery in the people who worked at the cold barren concrete warehouse. We'd pass each other in the long hallways and smile on the way to and from the bathrooms. But we kept to ourselves, lost to the grind in our respective offices. There wasn't a fluff ball among us.

We had been invited to move our offices into the warehouse by a work acquaintance when the Family Farm parcels started going through foreclosure (A Taste Of Destruction Book 1 is the juice worth the squeeze series). It became a refuge of calm during the chaos. But the place was like an icebox. So my office attire consisted of BDU pants with layers of shirts and coats depending on what time of year it was. Sexy as fuck.

Dad and I walked back into the room. Mom had a heart monitor next to her bed, an oxygen line going in through her nose, and an I.V. with whatever fluids going in through her arm. The shell of what my Mom had become was lying there in that hospital bed complete with one of those fancy five star gowns that open in the rear for easy access. But the room was missing a game console, a sixty-five inch screen, and the dancing candy strippers musical to really bring it all together.

The E.R. nurse, a young woman in her thirties, was busy pulling out more supplies, making sure Mom was comfortable. The nurse's eyes held layers of the tragedy she'd seen. She didn't tolerate bullshit. So we liked her immediately.

She started asking us questions off some checklist.  They were the same questions the E.R. Admittance Desk had asked. Dad answered as best he could. He wasn't good with details and timelines. But I was. It was one of the fun things my brain uselessly collected for incidents that almost never happen, until you're at a hospital. She finished the second round of questions while we waited for the Internal Medicine Doctor to arrive.

The E.R. nurse left the room to help another patient. Mom slept through the questions. Who could blame her. Her poor little body was exhausted. It was as if the life had been sucked right out of her. The whole scene was a surreal nightmare. I wanted to wake up. I needed to wake up. Somehow.

The  E.R. is not the place you see people pulling out cameras. But fuck it. I pulled out my cell phone and took a photo of Mom. Awkward or not. I had a deeper need to document it. This moment in the hospital was part of our history whether I wanted it to be or not.

After doing three years of 365 photo projects, a selfie a day for a year, including the one I did during the foreclosures, you get used to looking at life in moments. Every photo in my 365 projects had a backstory. I remembered exactly where I was and what was going on. There was a lot of captured growth and pain.

I opened my texts and fired off one to my Brother.

Me: We're at the emergency room with Mom. She hasn't been eating much and Dad's friend (MD & Psychiatrist) thought we should take her in and get lab work started so we can start trying to figure out what is wrong with her.

Bro: Oh man. Okay. Let me know what happens. Crap.

It was too early to tell anyone else. We didn't know what was going on. Most of Mom's family and close friends had known for months something was wrong. I'd been the idiot updating them in my oversharing emails. But I doubt they cared.

Me: I'm at the Emergency with the rents. We're taking Mom in to get lab and blood work done.

Emma: Is she staying over?

Me: Don't know yet...they're working her up.

Emma: Symptoms change?

Me: No. Just had my Dad's friend (M.D.) take a look at her and he advised to take her in and get labs eliminate some things.

Emma: Ah. I hope you get home tonight, and get some sleep. Love and light and warmth

Me: Mom stays tonite...anemic...blood transfusion...issues with bone marrow?

Emma was the only person I knew who could relate. Our Mom's were twins. Different parents. Same planet. Not earth though. Emma had been through several versions of Hell with her own mother's health over the years. She'd tried to talk me out of handing my life over to my Mom by caring for her. I understood where Emma was coming from and loved her for it.

But I couldn't see a way out. It didn't sit well, leaving Mom in the lurch. No matter how many times Mom spoke to me with malice in her heart. No matter how deep the lash of her words cut into my skin. No matter how many I'd come to the conclusion that I hated my Mom and wanted nothing to do with her for the rest of my days, I could not leave her to rot.

My life had disappeared the past few months caring for Mom at home. Half a year wasted away. Gone. I missed it. My life. I missed it a lot. Not that I had much of an existence anyway. What I had become, or allowed myself to become by the current circumstances, clawed across my breaths and ate away at my soul every day.

I was a useless human being on a path to nowhere. I had the chain around my neck dragging me down into the pitch-black to prove it.

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