Bandages replacing skin spiraled up the lower half of her mother’s legs.
Stale Arizona air filling the nursing home dictated a change in pace compared to the hospitals Sydney Stafford’s mom found herself in and out of. She wasn’t an old woman though, middle aged at best and bound to a wheelchair. Several of her bones were broken and un-healing; weakened and unwell. A birthday card balanced on newly 15-year-old Sydney’s lap between chatter about the nursing home pool, her mother complaining that the staff had filled it with rocks. She obsessed over the idea of having a house with a pool – living in the blistering Arizona heat, it became a rite of passage. 
“She was in a wheelchair, so not like she's gonna go in the pool, but it's like, she was still in that  moment thinking of the future and getting better,” Sydney said. “It was shocking to hear her be  normal again. She was treating me like a real mom.”  
Distant mountains and displaced heat backdropped her trip home. That drive, she had hope for another chance at life with her mom. She would get better now and they could be normal again. Her two sisters could play with toys instead of empty pill bottles and gone were the days at home alone, waiting for mom’s return from the hospital. Even at her worst she would always come back, and Sydney came to expect that just like before, she would come back.
But you don’t really understand mortality at 15, and opioids kill.  

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