I couldn’t stop screaming – the agonizing sound was echoing off of the walls, penetrating its piercing vibrations into the neighbors’ apartments. Stopping only to shortly catch my breath a couple of times, I continued screaming as the tears escaped their ducts uncontrollably, now a steady stream of water upon my cheeks, my chin. Clenching my cell phone in my right hand, I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t holding it up to my ear any longer as the excruciating noises fled my mouth, unceasingly.
I gasped for oxygen as I placed the phone back up to my ear.
“Linds, Linds…breathe, breathe…” My auntie calmly urged from the other end of the telephone.
“Noooooooooooooooooo,” I cried, flailing my left arm in the air following up this dramatic gesture by punching the bed that I was kneeling on. There was absolutely nothing calm about my demeanor as I was in the middle of experiencing the second worst day of my life to date.
It was around 7:00 on a Saturday morning, about a week before Christmas of 2010. My West Hollywood apartment was halfway packed in preparation for my big cross-country move to New York City and I had just woken up to retrieve a glass of water from the kitchen. Taking the first sip to replenish my thirst, I heard my cell phone loudly ring from the bedroom. My heart dismally leapt from my chest into my parched throat.
The night prior, after arriving home from a long day at work, I felt the weight of the world – The same weight I would feel months later the day my dad passed away as I described in my audio post, Perfect Stranger. This particular night, I couldn’t figure out why or what but it was heavy enough to take myself to bed at 8:00 on a Friday night
My sleepy eyes opened to a cloudy, rainy early morning as I slowly made my way to the kitchen. When the familiar sound of my cell phone became audible, that weight that urged me to an early slumber the night before drove me to quickly run to the bedroom as I thought to myself, no one calls me this early in the morning. I knew it was important and I knew in my soul that it was going to explain why I felt like I was carrying not only the World but also the Universe upon my shoulders.
Singer/Songwriter, Mat Kearney once wrote the poignant words, “She got the call today / One out of the gray / And when the smoke cleared / It took her breath away / She said she didn’t believe / It could happen to me / I guess we’re all one phone call from our knees…”
“Hello?” I nervously answered.
“Linds, I had to call 9-1-1 last night. Your mom collapsed – She’s fine. She’s in the hospital right now…” My auntie deliberately trailed off.
I discernably swallowed, “I don’t understand. What happened?” I persisted.
“The ambulance had to come and it’s cancer, Linds. She had to have emergency radiation on the multiple brain tumors that were pressing against her skull. It’s not mono. It’s cancer.” My auntie continued.
To this day, I’m not sure if I made her repeat herself because I was talking over her or breathing so heavily that I didn’t think I heard her correctly but the truth is, I heard her just fine – I just didn’t want to believe the words that were coming out of her mouth. I wanted it to be mono so bad. Regardless, stemming from my masochistic nature and the need for it not to be true, I made her say the words again, “It’s cancer.”
“No…No…NO! NO! NO!” I kept on repeating in response, the volume increasing with each time until it was a steady, continuous scream of the word, “NO.” It was probably one of the first words I ever learned and now, I was using it as if it was the only word I ever learned. I was in a perpetual state of shock fueled by an anger like I’ve never experienced before.
After hanging up the phone, I sat, motionless on my bed, staring at the peanut butter colored walls through blood shot eyes. It was somewhere in between wheezing for breath between irrepressible sobs and shrieking “No” and it was somewhere between the unrelenting torrent of thoughts that began whirling around in my clouded brain and the sound of the rain pitter-pattering on the windowsill that I began deeming the Universe cruel and that I stopped believing in a Higher Power.