"Mom! Mooooooooooom!" I yell, while barging through our front house door. "I'm hooooome!" Nobody answers. "Does anyone care?"
I take a left and enter our kitchen. I open up the stainless-steel refrigerator and pull out a plastic bottle full of blue Gatorade. The heavy fridge door falls shut and a yellow post-it-note catches my eye that's stuck to the fridge. It reads:
I took Jake to urgent care. Don't worry, it's nothing major, he was just talking about an ongoing head ache in his head. I think it might be a shortage of oxygen, nothing major, though. I'll be home around five. Until then, get your homework done and let out Cooper.
"Ughhhhh..." I sigh, an agitated voice arousing in my throat "Why does stuff always happen to us!"
Jake is my 8 year old, younger brother. 2 years ago he was complaining about a pain in his chest, and then continued to cough up blood. So, a day later, we took him to Children's Hospital.
When we got there, his breathing had become very heavy, almost like he was fighting for air. A room was assigned to him and research was done on his lungs. A couple hours later after he was assigned his room, a nurse had come out and explained to us that he had 2 large tumors growing in his chest. A day later he was diagnosed with Lung Cancer.
So now, two years in advanced, he is still fighting for his life. Jake has a thin oxygen canal leading from a portable oxygen tank that splits at his neck, wraps around his ears, and leads to his nose. It pumps air to his nose to help him breathe since his lungs suck. Jake will never be able to live a happy, healthy life. Never will he be able to play sports or even take long, fun trips without a medical team right at his feet. Never will he be able to live the happy life every 8 year old deserves to have. If I could switch places with him, I would in an instant. I would do anything just to give that poor kid a chance.
I walk vertical from the kitchen to the back patio. I slide open the glass door and step through onto the newly put down concrete. A German Shepherd is staring back at me through his metal cage, just as I turn around.
The German Shepherd throws his back up against the cage and jumps around in his little area, in attempt to get out. He paws at the door, signaling that he wants out.
"Calm down, Cooper." I tell my beautiful dog
Cooper is my German shepherd, well actually he is technically Jake's, but as soon as we got him, and our eyes connected, I knew he was mine.
Cooper was a present for Jake. We got him 2 months after Jake was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. Cooper was supposed to help Jake with support on standing up, and also make him happy-which Cooper naturally does. But Cooper is closer to me, though will still help Jake around.
I walk over to his cage and unlatch the top and bottom lock. Cooper leaps out and jumps on top of me. He licks my whole face.
"Down, Cooper. Down!" I yell.
He obediently jumps off of me.
I rub his head and pull on his ear.
"Oh, Cooper. It's okay, you know I love you."
He licks my hand to say "I love you too!"
We walk back into the house and I shut the glass door behind me.
We pass back through the kitchen and turn right, taking a lead up the stairs. Once up the stairs, I turn right again into my room.
I flick the light switch on. The whole room lights up, revealing lime green walls, an orange polk-a-dotted bedspread with a leather bedframe attached across the door, an orange rug across from the bed, dirty laundry sprawled across the floor, a black dresser on the right wall, and a bookshelf/makeshift desk on the other.
Cooper and I cross my room and jump on my bed. Cooper lies across from me as I stare up at the white ceiling...just thinking.
After a few minutes of "just thinking" I turn around and pull some books out of my book bag.
"We got a lot of homework tonight, Cooper. 3 Algebra worksheets to be exact, so let's get working."
The clatter of the front door shutting and the cling-cling of keys makes me jump up, a little frightened.
"Mom's home!" I whisper to Cooper
Cooper doesn't budge.
"And Jake..." I say
This makes him happy. He jumps off my bed and runs down the stairs.
After sketching a few more things on the last problem to my algebra page, I ever-so-lightly push myself off my bed and head downstairs.
When I get to the kitchen, I see Mom sitting down at the table, gently crying into her hands.
"Mom?" I make my way over to the table and sit down beside her "What's the matter?"
She sniffles a little and then sucks in all of her breath, in attempt to make herself presentable before she looks up.
"Oh nothing baby, just grown-up problems, that's all." she looks up at me, her blue eyes ready to pour out heartfelt tears again.
Just when I am about to let her be by herself to think, I see Cooper come trotting from the other side of the staircase. He looks up at me in bewilderment.
"Mom...is something wrong? Where's Jake?!" I demand
"Honey," she sniffles "Jake's at the hospital, the cancer's...the cancers gotten worse..."
A large hand flips over my stomach and makes its way up to my throat, creating a huge lump and pouring droplets into my eyes.
"How...how much worse?" I ask, my throat croaking from the ball arising in it
"He'll be okay sweetie, he just has to stay for some tests, I'm sure he'll be fine..." she tries to assure me, but from the tears still streaming down her face, I can tell that he most likely won't be fine. "In the meantime, I brought home some Chinese Food, why don't you make yourself a plate and then get to bed...it's been a long day..." she sighs, getting up from the table and making her way over to the plastic bags filled with food.
I stare at her making her plate. That's really all I can do. This whole thing still needs to process in my head, about Jake. There's no way he has gotten worse! No way!
I totally skip dinner and run up to my room, slam my door, and jump in bed.
I just cry for the rest of the night.