I could hear the painful cries and moans echoing through the hospital walls. They were more like screams. It wasn’t ordinary emotions. They were deep sharp aches that climbed out of the stomach.
“Something happened,” I said to my sister as we came closer to the intensive care unit.
My sister noticed the crying, but she thought it was just the same crying that she heard all day today. As we came closer we noticed it was different. It was loud.
“What is that?” she asked me, “What happened?”
* * * * * * *
“Hey Jaype!” my sister said knocking on my glass window. I was still in bed, shirtless, wearing pajama pants with my face eating the cotton shirt I wrapped around my pillow. She continued knocking on my window. “Jaype!” she said again continuing to try to get my attention from the slightly open window. Jaype is what my family calls me; it’s my first and second initial crammed into one syllable. “Jaype!” she said again, “Janelle’s sister is in the hospital.” I woke up.
I didn’t know Janelle very well except for the fact that she had been in a relationship for the past few years with my brother, Eliot. They were due to have a baby and I still wasn’t that close to her. I’m not close to both my brothers. We just aren’t that type of brothers. I didn’t even know Eliot’s girlfriend had a sister. Her name was Janice. I never met her or heard of her. Even then, I still got up, got into the shower, put on some pants, a white shirt, and my hoodie, as I headed over to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital it was what it was; excruciating pain, prayer, emotions running rampant. It wasn’t your normal kick back Saturday morning. I never met Janelle’s family. The halls of the ICU and the walls of the waiting room were surrounded with people I didn’t know. My sister said we were there to give support. Even if they didn’t know us, they still needed our support. We shook hands with people we didn’t know, asked them how they knew Janice, got asked how “we” knew Janice and we replied with the same story: her sister is dating my brother.
Everyone was hopeful. She was fighting, everyone said. Janice was dying from a blood clot that formed in her lung. The blood clot started forming because of a birth control she used called Yaz. She entered the hospital last night and she still laid in bed. Everyone knew she’d get better. Everyone had hope.
They wanted to sing hymns in the waiting room. They must’ve been hardcore Catholics. They didn’t have a music player with speakers, so my brother volunteered himself to get his CD player at our house. My sister and I drove back home with my brother to go get it. We pulled up to our house, my brother ran in, and we headed back to the hospital. My brother walked ahead of us as my sister and I stayed behind. As we started getting closer to the ICU unit, that’s when we heard the cries.
We walked passed a girl screaming in pain on the floors by the elevators as one of her friends held her in her lap. She was shaking, trembling, she couldn’t control herself. We walked through the hallways and everyone crowded the ICU main entrance. I could feel the frustration in some of their faces. The dark broken tones breaking all of their hopes. There emotions were smearing across everyone’s defeated hope.
“They’re starting CPR,” the doctor said to one of the parents, surrounded by everyone else wanting to hear what was happening.
She was already gone.
It must’ve hit everyone so suddenly. She had just entered the emergency room last night. Everyone thought she was okay, and that she would recover. No one even thought that she was dying. There was no chance that she could’ve been on her last breaths. She was 22. She was almost my age. She didn’t smoke. She exercised. She drank occasionally. Everyone thought she was fighting. She was supposed to get better. People were still rushing in only to find that they were too late. It was just yesterday that they brought her in. It was 2pm in the afternoon, and Janice had left her body.
My sister was mostly with my brother, who was mostly with Janelle, the whole time holding her. She cried and yelled, “Why didn’t they take me! She had so much to live for!” I watched them comfort her in an almost empty waiting room. There were hymns playing.
After the painful sudden embrace of death, everything simmered down. They started bringing people in to see her. I didn’t feel anything and neither did my sister. We were there to hug everyone even though no one wanted to hug us. Nobody knew who we were. When one mom came in with her daughter she told someone, anyone, to watch her daughter as she went into the ICU to see Janice. I took her baby into my arms and carried her after she came back out, tearing up, sitting on the floor with a broken spirit.
* * * * * * *
My sister took a seat next to me in the hall where I was sitting alone.
“When I was younger and it was only Angel and me, we would always be with mama,” my sister, Shirley said. Angel was our eldest sister, she was the second oldest. “One day when we were on the bus with mama the bus crashed and Angel and I were hurt badly. We were pulled out, but we couldn’t find mama. Angel kept crying, ‘where’s my mom Where’s mama!’ When they finally found her, there was blood all over her face. There was a large opening ripped on top of her head and she was covered in a lot of her own blood. Angel kept crying.”
“Your sister and I stayed in the waiting room in the hospital. Angel was still crying. She was crying a lot. I didn’t feel anything. I watched her cry since we left the bus crash and all she did was cry. I looked at her and said, ‘You cry too much.’”
“We couldn’t sleep at the hospital and they didn’t know how to contact papa so they put us in a foster home. Papa thought he lost all his family. He couldn’t find us. Angel thought we lost our mom and this was going to be how our life would be, no parents, just me and her.”
“Later on, papa picked us and up and took us home. Mama got better. But ever since then I noticed that I was sort of desensitized to type of things. I just don’t cry as much as your older sister,” Shirley said.
“I’m pretty sure I have that too,” I replied.
* * * * * * *
When I walked into the ICU, into the room that held the body of the sister I never knew, I felt out of place. Her family surrounded her life left body. Her mother and her sister held her hand wondering why it had to be her.