I was sick this weekend. And of course, being sick, all I wanted was for my mom to take care of me. So here’s my emotional rendition of what happened this weekend. It’s a bit all-over-the-place in style, but I felt as though this was the best way to convey what I went through emotionally during this time. (Don’t worry about me. I am taking medication and beginning to feel better now, thank you!)
It began on Friday.
03:42. Bus stop. Alone.
That scratch in my throat still hasn’t gone away…
Good thing I have those lozenges.
Why did I book a flight so early in the morning?
05:38. Airport. Shannon has just asked me whether I managed to get any sleep.
Why didn’t I sleep?
Why haven’t I been able to sleep for weeks?
Why have I been waking up tired and lying in bed awake?
What is wrong with me?
08:47. Plane. Landed in Paris.
Man, I should lay off talking for a while. My throat is really beginning to bother me.
11:35. Metro station. Cold as hell.
Am I miserable because it’s freezing? Or am I miserable because I’m sick? Is it freezing because I’m sick? Am I sick because it’s freezing?
15:02. Airbnb. Lying in bed. To the group chat.
“How swollen do your tonsils have to be before you go to urgent care?”
“I’d assume it’s when you can’t breathe.”
I decide to take a nap.
16:37. Airbnb. Lying in bed. To Gramma.
“…If it gets any worse I may go to urgent care.”
“Don’t wait. Go before it gets any later. Nights are the worst.”
I take another nap.
20:47. Uber. Raining outside.
Nights really are the worst, aren’t they?
20:53. Bicetre Hospital compound. Lost by the prenatal building. The Uber driver could not find the driving entrance to the premises.
I walk about 10 minutes in the nearly-freezing rain, following signs to “Urgences adultes” (Emergencies – Adults).
The rest of the weekend is a fever dream of sleeplessness and being reacquainted with my subconscious.
I shed my first tear talking to the intake workers at the hospital.
“Mais, pour quoi pleurez-vous?” (Why are you crying?)
“Parce-que ça me fait mal.” (Because it hurts.)
It hurts. It hurts being far from home and it hurts not knowing what’s wrong with my body and it hurts not having my mother here to make everything better.
My tears flood the waiting room as name after name is called that isn’t mine. A nurse walks in. “Madame X?”
An audible sob escapes my lips. The old man who keeps running away from his nurses asks me why I won’t stop crying.
At minutes to midnight: “Mademoiselle James?”
As I lie down in the examination room and await a diagnosis, it begins.
Her pain was so much worse than this.
And it doesn’t stop for the next 48 hours.
Things would be so much better if she were here.
Back in bed. Can’t eat. Can’t drink. Can’t swallow. Can’t sleep.
Remember wishing you could feel her pain?
Hours later. No rest.
At least she is at rest.
Sunrise. Craving sleep, if only to see her in my dreams.
I miss you. Come see me.
I force myself to stand and get dressed. I need to fill my prescription.
She was so strong.
Through labored breaths I tell the pharmacist that I’m looking to fill my prescription. No I don’t have local health insurance. Please may I have a receipt to claim back. Here’s my ID. Yes it’s British. No, I am Jamaican. Yes, I picked the wrong weekend to come to Paris.
“Vous parlez très bien le français.” (You speak French very well.)
“Merci. Ma mère est haïtienne.” (Thank you. My mother is Haitian.)
Back in bed.
How did she do it? How could she stand the pain? (Editor’s note: as I prepare to hit “Publish” on this post, I am all-too conscious that her pain did not end with antibiotics and painkillers.)
I force 8 spoonfuls of vegetable soup past my swollen tonsils.
Her last meal.
Dad calls. I don’t want him to worry.
Did she not want me to worry?
Friends call. Friends text. Friends offer help. Friends do what friends do best.
“Good fren betta dan pocket money,” says her voice in my head.
She’s with me.