“I don’t know anybody who likes hospitals.”
Caitlin from work said this.
Which reminded me…
The white walls. The echoing hallway. The bleach smell and the urine smell hiding just under the bleach smell. That unfiltered light.
Gran wasn’t waiting for us after school like usual. We waited on the porch, not knowing what to do. My sister sat on the stairs with her head in her hands. It seemed like a long time before my dad pulled up by the house, bringing the car to a sudden stop in the driveway, sending Mr. Corn’s husky dog, Panda, into a fit, froth forming at the corners of his black mouth as he choked himself on the short chain that kept him on his side of the driveway, barking his head off.
Then, those walls, that bright, flat light. My dad ushering us through the corridor and my mom standing there, waiting for us. Or maybe she appeared from around the corner. Or from behind the double-push doors.
She pulled the both of us into a hug. She was crying, had been crying, and when she pushed herself away from us she grabbed me by the shoulders with both of her hands.
“Your Gran has a hole in her heart,” she sobbed.
Then, all of us as we waited, sometimes sitting on the floor. My cousin, the oldest of the kids, got up after a long time and went into the closet. He pretended to sob, cried at the top of his squeaking vocal chords, banged and scratched on the door, stomped his overgrown feet and then came out with a smile so full of teeth it was obscene. He stood there and said nothing, bracing himself against the dingy wallpaper, smiling all the time. No one said a thing.
I remember his hanging stomach and him fingering the exposed bellybutton peeking out from just above his sweatpants.
Then, the room, everyone around the bed looking, some crying. And there was Gran with a sheet pulled up to just under her neck. Her eyes were closed.
She was cold.
Then, the eggs.
“Eggs have too much oil,” said my uncle.
“Your Gran ate a lot of eggs. Too much,” said my aunt.
“Eggs are bad for the heart. No more eggs,” said my mom.
Then, for years and years, no eggs. Eggs in other things, for cooking and baking, but not on their own. Never. Eggs were off limits, taboo. Eggs became unmentionable.
Years and years then slowly, with time, they were back again.
Then fried, sunnyside up.
And finally as another everyday thing, just another option in the fridge, next to the cheese and carrots.
At breakfast the other day, I made soft boiled eggs. It took a few tries, but I finally got the method down perfect.
An inch of water. Boil for one full minute and 15 seconds. Then, perfect eggs.
I carefully peeled back the delicate shell and dug into the softness inside; yolk overfilling my spoon, warm and golden. I was running late but still took the time to make the eggs and eat them without hurry. So good, so good!
So good, I wondered why on earth we hardly ever had eggs growing up.
And then I remembered.