Birthdays and Lost Memories

It’s my Mother’s Birthday today. She’s always been uncomfortable about it. Not out of vanity. Native Americans, don’t have much on reservations. I remember one birthday a friend had his Mom dropped us off at the arcade with $40. We played games quietly until we ran out of money. I didn’t know, that was his birthday present he shared with me. So. It’s a community but there’s very little there to begin with.

“You don’t remember anything about you?”

“Not really.”

“I have lots of Kenzie stories.”

“I’m sorry if I don’t remember stuff.”

I laid there after a twelve hour shift. After riding my bicycle 25 miles. After a shower. Naked. A heart attack just happens. It felt like a finger poking from the inside of my chest. Thump. Thu—. I looked at my chest. This is it then? Seems a bit anticlimactic. I have no regrets I just thought I’d be doing something better. Than lying naked and exhausted after a twelve hour shift. I made a deal. I’m going to take a nap and if I wake up tomorrow. I’ll call an Uber for the emergency room.

Why didn’t I just go to the hospital?

State run hospitals are not trauma certified. I knew. This wasn’t a complete blockage. So the state run hospitals that are cheaper only treat heart problems that are in extreme distress. I wasn’t in extreme distress. Sure. I couldn’t move too far because of my heart and I just had a heart attack. I was dying but not dead. To the doctors and to the heart hospital I had to be almost dead to get healthcare. So. I took a nap.

When I woke up I couldn’t remember my childhood. Everything was third person. I think, that’s what I mean I can remember other people’s lives just not my own. At all. I got into an Uber and took another bumpy half hour across Phoenix to the state run hospital. A Resident Doctor, she was beautiful. She was from Kansas. She had a great smile and green eyes. Her hands were kind of cold but I think she liked talking with me. She’d sit with me.

“Do you have anyone.”

“We just met. Don’t try to move in.”

I think it went like that. She’d try to stay somber and empathetic but I’d try to be this other likeable version of me. Even when, I could barely breathe. Even when, every nurse stuck an IV into all these collapsed veins. She saw something there. I saw something there too so I tried to be awful so she wouldn’t like me and disappear.

I think you remember the day you are dying the most vividly like a souvenir from a theme park. You don’t remember the whole thing just the boring parts. Standing in line. The smell of popcorn. Someone’s lost kid wandering around. That’s what dying was for me. I didn’t even tell my Uber driver. I just closed my eyes to keep my heart going a little longer.

“I never liked my birthday.”

“I don’t think women like birthdays.”

“We just never had any money for all these celebrations.”

“I know. I love you though. I love you Mom.”

She took me to this old Barbecue pit we liked since forever. I remember, nothing about it. Some things. It’s pretty weird.

“Remember anything?”

“No.”

“I’m so sorry. For everything in your childhood.”

“Thank you. I don’t quite remember.”

We had butter cake. It’s British. It felt more comfortable than getting churros and coffee.

“I was a f— up and you saved me.”

I cut some of her butter cake and fished for some whipped cream. It’s fuzzy. I saved some people a few times. I look at scars across my body. Maybe. It was then? Maybe.

“Well. I don’t get a lot of chances in life. I don’t blame you. I’m sorry if I did but I can’t remember.”

“It’s not fair. You were so smart. Scary smart.”

“I just—. I just lost a few decades of memories.”

“I couldn’t accept losing you.”

“I don’t think any parent wants to out live their kids. I accepted dying but I got to live a little more.”

“How can you just do that?”

“I don’t have a choice. Poor people, don’t get the best healthcare. So you just, die.”