"Yeah, da moon is full," says the black woman with the Jamaican accent in the emergency room. "My daughter, she always say, ‘Mom, mom, look at da moon. She want me to be careful. Yeah, I tell ya, the emergency room is always more active when it’s full. More accidents."
She says this because my dad is nervously talking about the full moon that morning as we wait for my mom to be wheeled in from a cat scan she needed after the car accident she and my sister were in. A woman, attempting to cross two lanes of traffic, plowed into the side door of the car holding the two of them.
My sister Tess sits next to me, uninsured and holding a hurt right shoulder.
They roll my mom in and she is disoriented and shaking. I feel sick and then so happy to see her I could just die. I had colored her hair at the house days before and I make some attempt at lightness on this, telling her it’s good I colored her hair so she can look pretty at the hospital.
And it strikes me how pretty she does look. She looks beautiful. She’s 60, but laying there she could be 40 or 20 or any age, or no age.
She’s shaking because she’s cold and so I take off my down coat and lay it over her in the gurney.
The Riley’s are a superstitious bunch and so we all start exchanging stories about how we knew this was going to happen.
"I dreamt Tess died a couple of days ago," my sister Fiona says.
"Chloe, didn’t you dream about mom dying?" my dad says.
And that was true. Earlier this month, I dreamt my mom had died suddenly. She was wrapped in a sheet and I wanted to look at her but couldn’t. My dad and sisters and I sat stunned in the other room. Then, by the end of the dream, she came back to life. Or had never died in the first place. And we all jumped and laughed and cried and sat around the table, just like a family again.
My dad’s nervous and we’re all nervous and so he starts quoting Titanic. “Now we wait,” he says. “Wait to live, wait to die.”
And then I repeat that really loudly and my dad’s laughing and telling me to keep my voice down, for god’s sake we’re in a hospital and then we’re all laughing and so happy that no one’s dead or badly hurt. That, for the moment, we wait to live.