I sit at the window in the parlour of my little flat behind my parent’s house. I stare down at the house as it sits in silence. It is quiet in that house now and has been for a while. Before, it was bustling and often loud. Even though I have been grown and out of my parent’s lives in the capacity as a dependent child for many years, they continued to be extremely active.
Mami constantly cooking and meeting with her Chinese Witch’s Club, Baba always downstairs working in his woodshop...or the two of them laboring in their garden, enjoying each other’s company. Since Mami became ill, the house and the garden are eerily silent.
“Knut for your thoughts?” George asks as he stands behind me. “Cho, what’s wrong...what’s happening to us?”
I have not told George about Mami yet. It is like if I do not tell him, then it will not come true. The second I tell him I will have no choice but to accept that my mother is sick and the Healers cannot help her. My chest hurts with the weight of my situation.
“George,” I whisper as I touch his hand at my shoulder. “Please don’t be angry with me...but...we can’t see each other for a while.”
At first he is quiet and I can feel his hands clench my shoulders in reaction to my words.
“What...why?” He tries to keep his voice even but I can feel the irritation in it. “Cho, what the bloody hell is going on? You haven’t been yourself lately. What’s going on?” He walks around and stands in front of me beside the window. How thoughtful of him to not block my view...
I slowly look up to his face. His expression is one of hurt and confusion. “Cho?”
“We just can’t see each other for a while. Something has come up that will be demanding my attention and I won’t be able to spend any time with you.” As I speak he crosses his arms. His jaw sets and he has no humor about his expression. Odd...to see George looking so serious...
“You’re going to have to explain yourself more than that. You’ve been pulling away from me for nearly a week now. What’s wrong? Don’t you love me anymore? Is there someone else?” Panic rises in his voice.
“No, it is nothing like that,” I whisper as I look back to the window at the house below. “I love you more than ever. It’s just that I’ve been neglecting some of my duties and I need to spend more time away from you so I can dedicate myself to them.”
“Is it something at work?” he asks. “Because we don’t have to break up about something like that.”
“No, it’s not work,” I look back at him as I fight to control my emotions. “It’s just that, that I, I have to...”
“Have to what?” he drops to his knees in front of me and puts his hands in my lap, holding my hands between his. “What’s going on? You’re scaring me...are you sick...are you going away?”
I find that I am staring at him. His face a contortion of confusion and fear...so much concern. I have to admit this to myself, to him...even if in the admission, it is made real. My eyes glisten with tears and I fight to keep from crying.
“My gods, Cho, what the fuck is going on? Tell me...tell me now!” He pulls me into his arms and I feel safe even if my heart is breaking.
“It’s Mami; she’s sick.”
“What...what do you mean, sick? Cho, what’s wrong with you mother?”
I tell him. I break down and tell him. About the illness, the tumor. How she is not getting better. How I am scared to death of losing her. How I cannot waste anymore of the precious time I might have left with her.
“I can’t,” I hiccup, “I can’t be away from her. You have to understand. I can’t be away from her to be with you. You have to understand. I can’t be away from her.” I bury my face in his neck and he waits with me until my tears pass. I can feel his gentle hand running up and down my back as he tries to comfort me.
“I want to be there for you.”
I look up to him when he speaks.
“I know you’re going to be spending more time with your mum and dad, but I want to be there too...for you, for them. Don’t chase me off. Let me help you?”
I do not know how to respond.
“I won’t let you go through this alone, Cho. So don’t ask me to. I don’t care what happened between me and your mum. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m right here for you and your family...the way you were there for me and my family. Understand?”
I stare at him for a moment before I nod as he embraces me to him again.
“Now,” he begins as he stands and offers me his hand. “Let’s get you cleaned up before we go down to see Mami and Baba.”