But instead, I took my father’s advices one more time because he was always right about everything, almost, and we got back on the road to Irvine where he had to go back to painting the next morning.
For hundreds and hundreds of decades, there weren’t many advances from the Egyptians on breast tumor treatments, according to the books I read. Of course, by the time my mother was going in for her surgeries, the surviving statistics were starting to be pretty good, and so I guess this was part of the reason why she’d insisted I go with the kids that day to Tel Aviv, rather than being by her side in the hospital. She was just hoping to be one of the good statistics on the graph and that life would go back to normal some few weeks after her recoveries.
But it didn’t happen for her this way and life never went back to the way it was. Instead, there were some few complications from the surgeries, like infections and these kind of things my mother was sometimes showing concern from before entering the hospital. I found out on one of my calls to my father the day after the mastectomy.
I had to chaperone the children back from Tel Aviv to the temporary camps we were running for them and then get on a bus and travel all the way back down to the hospital late at night. I remember the bus was filled with soldiers going to their bases after some days off with their families and I was thinking how life would be in the future when I was in the army and having a couple days off to be with my family. I was hoping very badly that my mother would recover 100 percent so I could visit her like these soldiers had probably just done with their mothers. I was hoping very much to take off my army uniform and put on some jeans and sit down with her in the future and eat a nice dish of her mograbia with the humus beans and the couscous. And she would ask me how life in the IDF was, how all my training and learning was going, and if I was successful developing algorithms that were helping the latest computer defense weapons knock down Scuds.
And after dinner, we’d all sit and talk about good things and good memories from our past and drink coffee and make silly jokes and look at pictures from my brother’s wedding and all kind of things like this. Later, I would go up to my old childhood room and beat my computer at chess on the highest level and come down and my mom would be so happy to hear of the news of that one that she’d tell us we should all jump onto the Peugeot and go out for some glidah to celebrate.
Maybe some of those soldiers sitting on the bus with me, sending SMS messages to friends from their mobile phones, enjoyed from the time with their families and maybe even had glidah to celebrate something. I didn’t ask anyone. I just thought about my mother and was hoping when I arrived to the hospital that she was going to be okay.
Her face was very pale when I was finally allowed to see her and it made my heart sink down inside. “How was the trip?” she asked to me with a tired voice, wanting to know everything about being with the kids in Tel Aviv.
I told her some few things, pretending that everything around us wasn’t happening, but we all knew we were faking. There is an expression in Hebrew that translates into English as something like, not talking about the pink elephant in the room, you could say. Basically it’s this big, odd thing in the room that no one wants to speak about. So this was the feeling that I felt for the entire first day I was with her in the hospital.
During most of this time, she slept in her bed with all the tubes and wires and stuff like that, and me and my father and my brother sat in the waiting area wishing we could also sleep in a bed, not in the chairs.
After many days of this, with my father, brother and me taking turns going back home and then from there back to the hospital to be in her room because my father had work to do and I had to look after the kids sometimes and stuff, the infections went away and a more normal recovery period of time started up. But it wasn’t for almost a whole week that she could leave the hospital and come home with us. When she did, basically she was very weak and unable to do much, other than lay around.
I remember one time having a virus in my stomach some few years ago, just before the hot days of summer really came up on us. So besides the large number of trips to and back from the toilet, basically I was stuck in a position on my back in bed for many days. I was so tired, I couldn’t even read a book or the newspaper or nothing like this and became depressed for maybe the first time in my life. It was so bad, it came to the point where I didn’t even care about my endgame or watching Jeopardy! or the pool outside, which, if I remember myself right, was when I first started neglecting to clean her out and fill her up.
With all the surgery recoveries and the radiation and then more chemo my mom had to have over the next months, it was not surprising any of us how tired she was, and how down her mood was, generally speaking.
One time, I came into her room after school and she wanted to know all about what was happening with me. So I tried to explain to her the polynomial equations we were learning and usually she was very interested in my mathematics courses because she was very good with numbers—maybe even smarter with them than anyone from our entire family, even my uncle Suki who was teaching calculus at a private high school where the wealthy Arab people were living in Upper Nazareth.
So I was making some few equation drawings on my notebook and when I showed the page to her, I saw that she had fallen asleep! Well, in actual reality, I thought first that maybe she died and my heart started beating very hard as I said, “Mom! Mom! Wake up! Wake up!”
And, of course, she did wake up and maybe even had a laugh at that one, but I was really afraid from those moments and really began to think about her maybe not making a full recovery from that time forward. It was a scary feeling, and I remember biting off my fingernails all the time during these months.
On my mom’s last night alive, we were playing games when suddenly she said she felt dizzy and had trouble saying what was she thinking. My father kept a blood pressure checking device in the bedroom and we checked and it was 80/40. So we quickly put her in the Peugeot and were driving like maniacs to the clinic. Her doctor used some drugs and put her into a comatose state on purpose and this is where her life ended some few hours later. One minute we were all playing Sheshbesh and she was even smiling her old smile when she got a good roll of the dice, and in another she was dizzy and the Peugeot and the coma and nothing after that. Nothing.