The afternoon sun washed onto us as we leaned onto our chairs, tired and out of things to say. The waiting room was quieter than before, most families have left with the happy news that surgery went well for their respective family members. We dared not hold equal hopes, albeit after endless prayers and tears. Exhaustion took hold of us all at once and our lids grew heavy with the weight of the warm air pressing into us.
"Hey folks!" I look to the sound of the greeting and first saw a mass of green scrubs then the tall figure of Dr B. He stood next to my chair and attempted to sit on its thin strip of wooden arms but gave up as soon as he began the attempt. I stood up, and he gave me a grateful nod before sitting down, so he could face my mom. He took her hand into his before he began.
"I am really sorry, there was nothing I could do for him. His stomach wall is covered with cancer." He shook the hands he held in his slightly to emphasize, and continued. "If I removed it in one place three more will grow out in another. They covered his intestines, preventing movements."
"Can you remove a small section to help his intestines move?" Mom asked. She had held hopes that a temporary measure could help father digest something, anything, water, liquids, a fraction of the medicine we tried to give him.
"It wouldn't do any good..." His voice trailed away, his face intent and eyes fixed on moms.
"How big are the tumors?" Mom tried again.
"The smallest are the size of this," He made a line across the top of his pinky to show us a pea sized fraction. "the biggest are like..", he curved his palms together to form a grapefruit. I drew back my breath and retreated my body away from him at this.
"The tumors are pressing on his organs, twisting his intestines and stomach, which is why he has been vomiting and feeling nauseated. There are also a lot of fluid. I removed about 3200cc during surgery. That should make him feel better for a while. I also connected a tube to allow the fluid to drain as it is collected. This will replace the tube in his nose, and will make him feel more comfortable."
Mom continued to ask about dad's condition, the nature of the prognosis (2-3 weeks), and what are the remaining options. I did my best to interpret and translate, as words and expressions became confused as they tend to between people from different backgrounds, culture and expectations. I made myself still, letting the words slid off my tongue without further processing, without adding the tint of emotions swelling inside of me.
Someone once said: "A writer is someone who lets go of painful things by preserving them forever in stories."
But as I saw words form in my minds eye then, I stuffed them back down in the clusters and clumps as they came until they reached deep inside me and latched onto my organs. They started to form bigger clusters and clumps and wrapped membranes onto themselves, growing and shrinking, or perhaps creating a breathe of life all their own. They pressed onto my heart, lungs, and stomach, until every ounce of air, nutrient, and life is drained from the cell that formed my once healthy internals. I saw my own cells shrink, fade and starve into oblivion as more and more them take over the very space mine used to occupy.
And fluid, there is so much fluid, with clusters and clumps swimming in them. Thick yet translucent, the yellow green liquid traveled around my veins, carrying and depositing an unwanted yet relentless cargo. I listened with earnest to the conversation around me, my eyes fixed onto their lips, eyes and muscles that moved to let those poisonous words depart from their bodies, while they carelessly stayed lodged into mine. Slowly words and clumps of pulsating clusters were drowning me both inside and out, until I couldn't breathe or see, as tears began to blur my eyes again. I looked up to the ceiling to press them back down, without knowing why. No one was looking at me. But I couldn't stand the feeling of release any more than the feeling of drowning, so I kept on pressing inwards, drowning in the mounting pressure, until words, inside and out, stopped flowing altogether.