A Long Wait
My legs turned to jelly.
“Oops. I got you, honey,” my father smiled as his strong arms wrapped itself around my shoulder to support me. It was almost inhuman how fast his reflexes were. “How could you tell I was about to fall?” I asked, barely a whisper as I struggled to find the energy to leave the place that had become my second home. My parents shared a pained look. The same heart wrenching, sympathetic look that they would always have on their faces when the topic was on me.
A look that I had grown to absolutely loathe.
“We’ve been doing this for a year now. I can tell when you need me,” my father replied, caressing my back while opening the car door for me. I gazed out the window with the side of my head pressed against it, earnestly wishing that this would be the last ride back home I would ever have to take from the place.
The painful, traumatising, stress-inducing place.
My mother tucked me into bed the second we got home, familiar with just how horrible I must have been feeling. She stroked my cheeks as a tear escaped her eye, her swift hand reaching up to wipe it away, hoping that I would not catch it.
It did not matter how much pain I was physically in. Nothing could even compare to the stabbing pain in my heart every time I saw or hear my mother cry. Her soft sobs as she cradled me in her arms every night, thinking that I was asleep. Her loud wails when we had to make impromptu visits to the place. My mother hurting hurt me the most and I did not know how much longer I could bear waiting.
“How long more, mum?” I wondered, impatience coating my voice. My mother bit her lips in an attempt to stop them from quivering. She enveloped me in a hug so tight, it was as if she was worried it would be the last time she would ever get to hug me. “Just a little more, sweetheart,” she answered tenderly.
A little more turned into days.
Days into weeks.
And weeks into months.
Months of constant pain, constant cries, constant anxiety.
I did not have it in me to wait for the rainbow after the rain anymore.
“I cannot do this anymore, dad! Please let me stop!” I screamed as I sat in my own vomit while my parents struggled to clean me amidst my tantrums. My mother pulled me in as she held me tight in an attempt to calm me down. She rocked me back and forth in her arms as I felt my energy depleting along with my tears.
I watched as my father reached up for the desk calendar that was on my bedside drawer as he brought it closer to me, pointing at a date circled in red ink with a note that was scribbled ‘It’s here’. He reached out to hold my hand, giving it a squeeze as he whispered, “Tomorrow. Just a little more.”
'Tomorrow' finally came and I was transported back to the place. Everything was the same. The rooms, the outfits, the pain. Nothing felt different and I was losing trust that it was really the end.
“Aliya!” I jumped in my seat at the mention of my name as my head shot up. “He’s ready to see you now,” a lady announced as she opened the door, motioning for my parents and me to enter. I trudged in, moving to sit opposite the man that never seemed to have anything nice to say. However, something felt different in the way he smiled this time and a spark of hope ignited in me.
“No more waiting, Aliyah. That was your last chemotherapy session,” the man cheerfully declared. His smile grew wider as he reached out to pat the back of my hands.