“I’m sorry Mrs. Andrews the test results came back positive,” the pathologist told her and Katie, her daughter.
They both broke down in tears and knew the worst was yet to come.
Katie was comforted by the fact that her father would provide financial stability they needed right now.
Mrs. Andrews and Katie drove home prepared to tell Katie’s father and younger brother the devastating news. Mr. Andrews has been a rock through his son Brian’s mental illness ever since they found out four months ago.
Katie called her father to ask him what time he’d be home for dinner because they have something to tell him. But he never answered her call, nor would they ever lay eyes on him again.
Mrs. Andrews didn’t sleep for two weeks and was agitated all the time. Katie did the best she could to comfort her, but nothing seemed to work.
One morning Katie came downstairs ready to go to school and saw her mother bawling at the kitchen table.
“Mom we are gonna get through this. I promise you.”
“No, you don’t understand. The insurance was cancelled, and I can’t afford the payments for my treatments anymore,” Mrs. Andrews said
“Well, I’ll just quit school and get a job to help pay for it.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. What kind of job is an eighteen-year-old girl with no degree or skills going to get? Besides what about your dream of being a
“Keeping you alive is more valuable than any silly dream I could ever have,” Katie said
“You have your whole life ahead of you. When are you going to ever fulfill your dream if you have to take care of poor old me?” Mrs. Andrews said
“You’re my mother. I would do anything for you,” Katie said
Hours spent online filling out applications and feeling nauseous at the thought of being interviewed. She dreaded dealing with people face to face which is why she chose the major she did. No people, just computers with no emotion.
Katie discovered work was hard to come by especially a job that paid enough to take care of the medical bills her mother required. She asked the few friends she had to help her find work.
She found a full-time job doing ride share and work at a grocery store part time. These were the only jobs who called her back and gave her a chance.
After her first shift driving little old ladies to bingo, a newlywed couple who couldn’t keep their hands off each other and a belligerent drunk who instructed her the ‘correct’ route to his house she was ready to quit.
When she got home, she found her mother asleep on the couch and covered her with a blanket. Katie’s eyes welled up and knew she couldn’t quit.
Katie was no longer the shy, passive daughter her mother came to know. The responsibility of caretaker for her mother and now brother fell deeply on her shoulders. College parties, attending classes with her friends, living a carefree lifestyle disappeared. Friends stopped calling as the reality of what happened began to take a toll on her.
One morning Katie was in the kitchen making breakfast for her and Mom before heading to work like normal. Mrs. Andrews looked at Katie and asked her if she was alright. Katie looked in her mother’s eyes and broke down. “Life is so unfair. Why did God make you sick and take Billy from us? I don’t know how much more I can take. I just want you to get better and things go back to normal.”
Katie looked at her Mom, wiped away the tears and went to the bathroom to put on her face. She kissed her mother on the forehead and went to work determined to not give up and fight the good fight like Mom is doing.
Days felt like weeks as the hours she put in were grueling for an adult never mind a kid. Many days she felt like giving up, but Mrs. Andrews condition got better. Things looked up and Katie could see light at the end of the tunnel.
One night after her shift was over Katie received a phone call from Mom. This was not unusual because Mom always checked in at the end of her daughter’s shift to make sure she was ok. Mom felt horrible that Katie’s dreams were dashed as the two grew closer when the diagnosis was first discovered.
Katie could hear something different in her Mom’s voice. “Mom are you ok? You sound weird.”
Mrs. Andrews burst into tears on the phone and blurted out, “Your brother passed away a little while ago.”
“What? What happened?” Katie said
“His heart gave out.” Mom said
“I’ll be right home.” Katie said. She had one more fare to pick up to complete her shift but got someone else to get it for her.
She floored it on the way home yelling at other drivers and flipping them off as she sped by them. A gush of tears rolled down her face when she pulled into the driveway. “Why is this happening to me?” she repeated over and over. “This wasn’t the plan. I am supposed to be on my way to becoming a nurse. Looks like that’s all shot to hell. Who know how long Mom will need me to keep up with her treatments and all the other bills?”
Katie grabbed her cell phone and scrolled through her contacts and found the one she wanted. She stared at the phone for a couple of minutes still unsure whether to call. She resisted and put the phone down and said, “Screw it. We don’t need him. I will keep going without his help.”
There was a private viewing in the hospital as Katie and Mrs. Andrews couldn’t afford to pay for a funeral and burial for Brian. They best they could do was to have him cremated and spread his ashes in the ocean since he loved the beach so much.
Mrs. Andrews woke up one morning a couple of days after the viewing complaining of chest pains. She wasn’t going to bother Katie given what just happened but didn’t want to take a chance.
Katie came downstairs with eyes puffy and worn out. She didn’t look as prim and proper as she used to. Hair was tied in a ponytail and not tight but jumbled like she rolled out of bed.
She looked at her mother and knew something was wrong. “Mom are you ok? What’s wrong?”
“I think I need to go to the hospital. I’ve been having chest pains for close to an hour,” Mrs. Andrews said
“Mom why didn’t you say something sooner? Jesus. We’re going to the hospital right now.”
“What about your job?” Mrs. Andrews said
“I’ll tell them I have an emergency and can’t come in today,” Katie said
Katie grabbed her mother by the arm and escorted her out the front door. She dropped Mrs. Andrews off at the emergency room front door and told her to check in.
They don’t wait long for a nurse’s assistant to escort her to a room for examination. Katie’s heart started to race as they walked through the hectic environment. Doctors and nurses were busy tending to patients, EMS brought in a couple of burn victims, and the phones rang off the hook.
Katie got a smile on her face a mile wide as Mrs. Andrews was being wheeled down the hall. They settled in room 142 as the nurse had trouble connecting the IV to Mrs. Andrews arm. Katie jumped in and politely asked the nurse if she could do it.
A doctor walked in the moment Katie stuck the tube into her mother’s arm. Before he said anything Katie was done, and the doctor commented on what a good job she did.
“Wow how did you get so good at attaching tubes to people?” the doctor asked
“I don’t know. I’ve never done it before, but it felt comfortable.” Katie said
The doctor examined Mrs. Andrews and determined she had a severe panic attack. He told her he wanted to keep her overnight for observation just in case.
The doctor asked Katie how she knew how to put in the IV. She told him all about how she learned it at internship at a hospital and her schooling. They talked for about 30-45 minutes about medicine, hospitals, and her future plans.
“We could use more people like you in the ER. Let me know when your mother gets better and your situation improves, we can look at bringing you on part time. Maybe even pay for your nursing degree,” the doctor said and smiled slyly and left the room.
Katie did her happiest dance and knew she was granted a second opportunity.