I wasn’t sure whether I should go to school today, mum is bad today she’s really shaky and hasn’t even been able to get out of bed. Its okay, I already know my seven times tables anyway. Probably should introduce myself, I am Ben Arnold and I’ve just turned eight. I don’t feel eight. I haven’t felt eight or I never felt seven for a long time, but that is beside the point. I’ve had to grow up quick, real quick. Mummy’s not well; I wish it was just the sniffles like I get sometimes. I really have prayed that if I give her some calpol and cuddles she will get better like she does for me and everything will be okay and I will have my mum back. But the doctor man says that sometimes things aren’t that simple. Instead its serious hospital visits for complicated operations that they say I’m too young to understand. And painkillers, lots of them, to make sure she feels better. But I’m not sure if she does and I’m not sure she ever will.
They say she has Cerebral Aneurysm, the doctor, Dr. Scott is really nice all the time and he tries to explain it to me. Because sometimes all I want to do is understand. Understand why my mummy could be going to heaven soon, when she is the only person I have. Understand when my daddy left and why he left when he knew I was in mums tummy. And why, all these questions I have come back to that one. WHY. Why my mummy? It’s okay though. There gets a point where you have to stop asking, because no one is answering.
Dr. Scott tells me that one day my mummy woke-up with a headache- I remember this. Sometimes she would get more angry at me for watching too much TV or not brushing my teeth properly. The headaches wouldn’t go away, they kept happening, so she came to see Peter. He did some tests, quite cool ones where he would try to look inside her brain and stuff. But what they found wasn’t cool. Far from it. Somewhere in her brain, the veins, like the ones I can see in my arms, are swollen. There are risks of them starting to bleed inside her brain and this would be really dangerous as it could mean mum gets even sicker. I have seen her faint before. I have seen her in a lot of pain. But there is nothing I can do to stop it and it hurts, it makes me really sad. I can cry all I want it doesn’t make it go away, nothing does. I open my eyes and she is still in pain, still finding it hard to speak to me and all I can do is hand her the blue pills and a glass of water and give her a cuddle. All the cuddles in the world won’t ever make it like it used to be, just me and her. My mummy.
At first, when mum first went to the doctors, she tried to keep it from me. I got upset at her, because she always says that lying is bad and that is what she did. But she explained that sometimes grown-ups have to lie to protect the people they love. So this is what I did. I lied to my school whenever they wanted to meet with her, I lied to my friends mums when they asked about her and most importantly I lied to grandpa and grandma. They live somewhere far in the north of the country, every time they called I would make an excuse about where she was and every time she spoke to them it was the same.
“We don’t tell them because we love them, we are doing it for them. You know how they are getting weaker, I don’t want to put them through something like this” is what mum would always say. Something inside me told me this wasn’t right.
In Science one morning, I was speaking to my friend Greg, he looked sad. I asked him why he had tears in his eyes just in case his mummy was sick too. But he told me that his parents had been shouting and crying loads and they are getting divorced, this means them living in different places and he never wanted this to happen. When I asked him why all he knew was it was because of a secret. This showed what I had been thinking all along. Secrets are just like lies and they are bad. I decided I needed to tell grandma Ruth and grandpa Fred, before everybody started getting angry with each other.
It was about 4pm, I was watching some after school TV while mum was resting, her painkillers make her sleepy most of the time. The phone rang and I ran to answer it so it wouldn’t wake her, it was grandma, something inside of me felt sick. I knew I had to do it, just wish I knew how. My voice turns weak as I explain mums in bed, because she isn’t well, but grandma assumes it is one of her silly headaches and says she will call back. I froze.
“Hello..hello darling are you there? Hellooo…Fred I think the lines gone dead, I told you we should have bought that new model”
She has no idea. How do I do this? I don’t know how to say it, I don’t know how she will take it, what if everybody gets angry with me? I can’t sleep thinking about it. Tomorrow. I’ll call do it tomorrow, I’ve got to.
There’s a knock at the door. 10am on a Saturday, I’m not expecting anyone. I answer the door feeling jumpy. It’s grandma Ruth and grandpa Fred standing in the doorway with weekend bags and huge grins on their faces. Picking me up and giving me a huge cuddle she says:
“Oh my little darling! Look how much you’ve grown. We thought we would come and surprise you and your mum. Where is she?”
How am I going to get myself out of this one?