Luis Zamora, “Alone” / Kassandra Rodriguez, “Flowing Rains of IV and Antiseptic”

“Alone,” Luis Zamora, Oil on Canvas

Flowing Rains of IV and Antiseptic

Kassandra Rodriguez

It’s when the stratus and cumulus start forming and the gray hues start conjuring that you realize it’s coming: the illness that will once again land her in another hospital, confining her to a bed and you to a river of responsibilities. You knew it was coming, you could almost see it. You could practically already smell it. The rain. Day by day you see her health deteriorating and feel your fear increasing, and again the cycle of hope begins. That familiar sense of hope that she’ll stop fighting it. That she’ll give in and visit it again, without the need of you calling another shiny lighted ambulance. The enthusiastic hope of all Arizonians that amidst the scorching heat, the rain will pour. In the midst of hope, though, you forget the drainage that runs along with it, as the hope blinds you with ideas of plastic optimism. Optimism that mom will get better as soon as she steps foot into the white building. That the people in white and helpers in blue and purple will guide her out of harm’s way. She will once again be safe, and in the best of hands. Whether it was shattered arms, pneumonia, sepsis, E-coli, severe kidney infections, or even cancerous cysts. The doctors had the power of healing all the physicalities damaged within her. 

Past those white doors you found comfort. In those cold rooms you felt warmth. In those cloudy days you saw the rainbow, even before light could begin to seep through. An arc of relief extended above you. Faith resembling confidence, reflected on the shiny white tiles under you. Reflecting the certainty of her future well being. The beeping of machines serves as an odd reminder of the active care and monitoring, a physical sign of reassurance. The smell of hand sanitizer now deeply associated with a feeling of protection, safeguarding against the invisible that keeps hurting her. Another reason to trust them, to believe in the men in white. Amidst the 115 degree heat, who doesn’t feel relief in the start of dripping after days of cloudy teasing? 

The instant relief initially washes over you, the sense of peace flowing on you, blocking every and all other feelings once present. Until it just keeps pouring, and pouring, nonstop pouring until all you can do is wish for it to stop. As it keeps pushing more and more down your shoulders, you regret ever wishing for it. The new, seemingly never-ending responsibilities of your autistic brother and caring for a home all alone create such weight on your shoulders, harshly pushing down in a nearly successful attempt to drown you. All while she’s stuck in the dull room, the same one you have dreams of being lost and alone in. The dread of the uncertainty of your new life makes you shiver, yet you claim it’s from the cold of the drench, from the bitter crisp of the colorless room. You tremble at the insecurity of life. How the smells of alcohol and scents of antiseptic make you asphyxiated. How the colorless room steals her away, taking part in her sudden absence that murders all once-existent tranquility. And you realize that the unexpected absence of just one, one out of seven billion, can cause your whole mentality to crumble down to nothingness. To others, this storm is just a shower. To you it’s a flood, and you can’t swim. You look at all the fish that swarm: older, wiser, knowledgeable adults somehow born with the ability to swim, knowing how to navigate through the harsh currents of stress, and of life. The what ifs grow into what wills, and the impotency of having to deal with everything on limited resources, still being a 12 year old, makes you reevaluate yourself, how unknowingly vulnerable you always were. The IV drips seem to mock your nervous taps, and you realize the scent of clean is a mere cover for the scent of death. You hit the sudden realization that nothing truly is in the control of the men in the colorless coats. 

Hospitals, like rain, bring forth the initial instillment of relief. But when the cascading feels endless and you lack an umbrella, you look up to others for help. For dependence, as all the “adult” management now falls on you. For help with all the stress that hides beyond the antiseptic scent. And those with the protection of umbrellas carry on, not looking back, not looking down, not an ounce of remorse or pity in their hearts. They are too preoccupied with not getting dripped on themselves, but a 12 year old doesn’t understand that even direct family members are more preoccupied with such waters of their own life. It forces you into independence, into realizing that a broken piece of cardboard permanently half-shielding you from the rain is preferable over the indifferent temporary cover of another’s umbrella. It pushes you to learn that to swim, you must first be submerged into the complexities of responsibility.

Luis Zamora is 20 years old and has been diagnosed with autism. His family originates from Mexico, but he was born in the United States. Luis is a Phoenix College alumnus with an Associate in Fine Arts in Art. He’s currently a student at Arizona State University pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing. He loved to draw from a young age and was inspired by one of his former high school art teachers, a muralist who showcases his works to the whole city. Luis has chosen a cross-cultural approach as his primary way of telling stories and spreading awareness. Luis began exhibiting in competitions during his junior and senior years in high school before seriously pursuing art as a career. Since then, he strives to find new ways to connect and communicate through graphite, colored pencils, acrylic paint, oil paint, and all other media in two-dimensional art. Luis’s goal is to be a dynamic interdisciplinary artist who can fluidly move between materials.

Kassandra Rodriguez is currently part of the Phoenix College ACE program or, in other words, she’s doubling as a high school and college student all at once. Writing has always been a great passion of hers and a wonderful outlet to express her true emotions and sincere thoughts to the world.