I was at University on a Friday evening when I received a phone call from my mom. She told me she was with my dad in the emergency room. Over the past three months, he had been feeling a little sick; he had been dizzy and had a lot of headaches, but this time he passed out and was vomiting uncontrollably. I was worried, but I never imagined what would happen later.
Only one person could be with him in the ER. I spent the night sitting next to him while the doctors took tests to try and find out why he was so sick, but apparently everything was fine. That Saturday at midnight, everything changed; he started vomiting again and felt excessively dizzy. All my life I had seen my dad as the calmest and healthiest person in my family, and suddenly I was seeing him screaming for help. He had become desperate and completely dependent on me. At that moment, I hated all the nurses and the medical system because it seemed like no one wanted to help him; everything was delayed and no one could give us any answers.
On Sunday morning my sister got on a flight to our city. When she arrived at the hospital, she took my seat in the hospital room with him. But before I left, I kissed my dad on the forehead and told him how much I loved him. He said, “I love you too” and “thank you for taking care of me.” At that moment, he could barely see. He couldn’t listen well either, and I noticed that he was getting confused and saying stuff that didn’t make sense.
I eventually went home, and my boyfriend as well as my aunts and uncles were there to wait with us. Finally my sister called. She told us that the doctors had discovered a mass in an artery in his brain and that they had to operate. We immediately went to the hospital and that’s where I heard the most frightening word: “coma”.
Yes, my dad was in a coma and suddenly my hands began to shake. I was crying inconsolably. Everybody saw how upset I was; they had to take me to the ER because apparently I was having a panic attack. Then we received the worst news—there was nothing they could do. The mass had been there for so long that it was impossible to extract. I went crazy and began to yell at the nurses and doctors because I thought it was their fault. I really felt like they killed him because we had to spend so much time waiting for the tests.
Life Kept Getting Worse
He spent the next three days in the intensive care unit, and on February 23rd he died. We were prepared for that, but at the same time we weren’t. It was so painful and sad. I remember it felt like something was missing from my body; I felt incomplete, like as if I’d lost a limb. That feeling stayed for months.
That was the first time I was facing death up close, and it hit me hard. But the pain got worse. Two days after his death, I accidentally read an email that was meant for my mom. In the email I found out that she had huge credit card debt. My mom liked to go to the casino near our house, but we didn’t think it was a bad thing because we though she went occasionally. We didn’t think that she bet much money; I even went with her a couple of times and she had made a lot of friends there.
It Felt Like I Lost Both Of My Parents
I told my sister about the debt and we decided to confront her. Our fears became a reality because she confessed to spending all of that money at the casino—but that wasn’t the worst part. She owed money to all of her siblings too. She had been lying to them and asking them for money over the past 2 years, so they all thought we had money problems.
I saw my sister screaming of anger at my mom because she had also lent her money many times, but I didn’t know how to react. I was so sad about my dad that I thought it was impossible to be sadder. At that moment everything was so confusing; it felt like I wasn’t living my real life and like they weren’t my family, or at least the family I knew.
We had to talk to all of our relatives because she didn’t even remember how much money she owed them. Suddenly my mom went from being the loving mother, housewife and big sister, to the liar and gambling addict of the family. I felt like I lost both of my parents in just a week.
My Life Flipped Upside Down
My sister paid off all of the debts and we had to use part of the money from my dad’s life insurance (we were initially going to use it to buy an apartment because we lived on a rented one). After that, our relationship with our mother drastically changed. I had to manage all of the money in the house and I felt like I had to watch her every dime as if I was the parent.
I stopped going out with my friends and my boyfriend because every time I was out I couldn’t stop thinking that she was at the casino or buying a lottery ticket. I started rummaging through her purse without her knowing. I was also spying on her, and I was even reading her internet history. We had so many fights about it, but fortunately, my boyfriend and my family were supportive. They’ve helped us deal with my mom’s addiction, and they even paid for her therapist.
Babies Bring Joy To Our Life
At the beginning she had some setbacks, we even have found lottery tickets in her purse. But one of the things that helped us a lot, in addition to all the support from our loved ones, was Bianca, our dog. Bianca came into our lives two months after my dad’s death. One day in April, my two best friends knocked on our door with a basket that had a pink blanket in it. Rolled up in that blanket was a little, chubby black and brown puppy with a white patch on her chest.
They adopted her for us because they said, “babies bring joy to our life” and that was true. That was the best gift we could ever receive, even though my mom didn’t want her at the start. Bianca was there to bring us back together and distract us from all of the bad things that had happened. 2018 wasn’t a good year, but I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if Bianca wasn’t there. We were so busy teaching her where to poop or how to catch a ball, that we quickly forgot about our fights and chose to play with her.
The Other Side Of Darkness
It hasn’t been easy. We’ve had many money issues and discussions, but over the past nearly two years, my sister and I have begun to trust my mom again. All she needed was more attention from us, and I had to realize that I didn’t have a perfect mom. I don’t feel like I lost my mom anymore because she is still the loving, caring, warmhearted, great cook that she was before. I realize that she’s capable of making mistakes like any other human being. Now in 2020 while we’re in quarantine we’ve learned so much about each other. The three of us have been in lockdown watching movies, making recipes, and playing with Bianca and Arenita (our newest dog).
All of the things that happened with my parents were deeply painful and life changing. Before everything happened I had a different perspective of my family and of money; but now, I feel more mature. I just wish that my dad could be here to see how much I’ve mentally grown, and to see how close we’ve all become. In addition to that, I’m thankful that he knew how much I loved him, and I’m glad that his last words for me were of gratitude.
This story was selflessly submitted anonymously from Colombia.
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