Last Halloween

Last Halloween, at 1:05am, I got a text from a guy I used to hook up with in college that read “Haha hey. I’m dressed up as an old lady. I’m hot. Hit me up if you’re tryna make out”.  I heard the notification amidst an attack of beeps, choked by the smell of rubbing alcohol, wide awake in a hospital chair that I was sharing with my brother, next to the bed that held my parents and was like oh my god my life is now different. If I had received that text a day earlier, I would have woken up in his apartment that morning, put on the tight dress that was veiled as a costume the night before, picked at an everything bagel and made useless small talk in the form of ragging on him until I hopped in a cab, brushed my teeth and worried about what dance class I would take that day. And then maybe I would have done it all again. And in between I would’ve called my parents 20 times to ask things like should I get iced coffee or hot coffee? But I got the text that night and that night my healthy dad was told he had terminal cancer. My mom was told her college sweetheart would soon be gone. My brother and I were told too many details. We knew exactly how my dad would die minutes after hearing the word glioblastoma. We lost hope and both of my parents in a scan image. And then it happened. We grew up. We drove and cooked and took out the trash and researched the pills and shouldered the fear and optimistically reassured and coddled and carried and planned and put the growing needs of our parents ahead of the basic needs of our own. We did what our parents did for us our whole lives. And oh man we didn’t thank them enough for that. Because it’s so fucking hard. I want to run! I want to sit in an apartment and blast dumb music and eat my favorite snacks for meals and masturbate when I feel horny and breathe deeply and stand on my head and drink with a friend and sleep in and go to a coffee shop for six hours and just be. I want to be. I want to go back to a time when I only over-worried about my own worries. I spent this whole year worrying about my dad. His pain and his peace. And now his pain is over and he is at peace. And now I worry about my mom. I’m lying next to her in bed as she stirs. I just heard her mumble, “Come on Jim.” I’m so tired. I want to only hear the faint voice reminding me that I need sleep and greens. But there is more noise now. I can’t block it out and I wouldn’t want to. Because I’ve been talking for so long. I’ve been the voice humming in my parents’ heads. I’ve been the worry keeping them up before I text them that I made it home safely and the sadness weighing them down before I tell them that I felt a little happier that day. That’s what love does. It takes over. It is hyper-there. It overrides your ache for freedom with their need for hugs. My hugs are needed at the moment but I was squeezed for 24 years so I am equipped. I was hoping to have more years of being held before it was time to hold but my dad was hoping to have more years of living before it was time to die and so we adapt because we have no other choice. I want to run and sleep and eat greens and be but I will wake up early tomorrow and hold my mom and stay in the house and have the lasagna and silence her fears because I love her as she has loved me.