At Hospital

My little brother is two in this memory.

In November, he stays at hospital with my mother for several days in preparation for another major heart surgery. As always, many of his favourite toys and books accompany him to make his days at hospital feel as ordinary as possible.

During the day, he plays with his toy buses and his Pooh bear plush, or reads his favourite book Nontan series. In late afternoon, he watches the same TV programs that we normally watch together at home before dinner. In the evening, he takes a bath alone while my mother helps him on the side, and in the bathtub, he dances the same dance that we normally dance together in the tiny bathtub at home.

No matter how much daily routine my mother tries to maintain around him, however, my brother is aware that he is staying at hospital, and everything is different from when he is at home with everybody else.

One day, something unexpected is heard from my brother’s mouth.

“It’s not you and me here,” he explains to my mother as he plays with his Pooh bear plush. “We’re at home. It’s Daddy and Big Sister staying at hospital.”

Later, my mother will share that story with me and make me think about the time my brother spent at hospital. The time he spent at hospital was also when his big sister was sent to live with her relatives or spent the days missing two of her family members, always eager to explain to others about her little brother and his heart disease.