Migrations and Salutations

In the halls of the Arcadia Methodist Hospital, migration and immigration mean two different things entirely. The Emergency Room sign says “Emergency” in English, Spanish, and Chinese, and even sorrow speaks different languages.

“Mom, you’re going to be fine. I know. I love you.” (Wipe tear off cheek.) She’s going down the hall, off to surgery.

“Everything’s going to be fine, okay? K, I’ll see you in a bit. (Kiss)

Bye.”

In the waiting room, the children of Saint Gabriel fill the waiting rooms with In and Out burgers. It is a sea of black jeans, highlights, and acrylic nails. Cousins have come. Girlfriends have come.

Families sit in circles, with black ponytails swishing above the straight-backed chairs.

People are accompanied.

Around the corner, the nurse in the elevator releases a quiet sigh.

"How are you?" I ask.

"Oh, I'm fine; just a bit tired, that's all.

I'm a glutton for self-punishment. I commute everyday from Hemet."

Amongst the quiet chit-chatting of everyday realities, a loud wail suddenly interrupts the silence.

Down the hall, a ponytailed woman in a zip-up jumpsuit is sobbing uncontrollably. Wailing in Spanish on a flip phone.

“But I did call his brother to tell him! He just doesn’t pick up!!!!”

Her sorrow is unbearable. Someone has died, and she can’t reach the people she needs to tell. Although she is in Arcadia, Mexico isn’t. Not only is her husband gone, her loved ones are far away from her.

In the ICU, my mother’s mind is elsewhere as her body sits in Unit 6. She breathes calmly. Her mind might be elsewhere, but she is there. With me.