Candy Crush Saga is a game I have never actually played. I didn’t even know it existed until last Sunday, yet the name will be forever etched in my mind. Allow me to explain:
On Sunday, March 19, I visited the Mayo clinic in Mankato MN. My Mother had been admitted just over two weeks ago for what we assumed was simply dehydration. Over the last two weeks, we watched in horror as her organs began to fail rapidly, one by one. She wasn’t simply ill, she was dying. On that day we showed up expecting good news. She had made a decent recovery two nights before and we were to meet with the team of nurses and doctors assigned to her to discuss treatment options. When we got there, we found she had deteriorated even more, and the discussion changed into something none of us could have ever prepared for. Myself, and my siblings, had to make the hardest choice we’ve ever had to make. At the end of the meeting, we had decided to remove my Mother from life support.
Now, Mom had lived a very difficult life. She had multiple anxiety and mental disorders due to the trauma she’d dealt with over the years, yet through it all she still stood proud and strong. She just kept going no matter what the odds, and seeing her there in her bed, hooked to wires and tubes, her bloodshot eyes opening for just a brief second, obviously hearing us but totally oblivious to her surroundings, it absolutely crushed us. My Sister and I had to leave for a few minutes. We had to collect our thoughts and come to terms with the gravity of the situation that stood before us. During our conversation, my Sister pulled out her phone and just half-smiled at the screen. “Candy Crush” was all she said to me.
She told me later that Mom had started playing casual games whenever she felt too stressed out. Video games weren’t just a fun distraction for her, they were a tool she used to mitigate the storm constantly raging inside her head. They were something to help her forget her problems and just feel normal for a few minutes at a time. My sister introduced her to Candy Crush Saga, and the two of them would go back and fourth trying to best each other’s high score. My Mom was apparently really good at the game, because she had the high score for several months. That morning, my Sister finally beat Mom’s high score, and she would never have another chance to reclaim her title.
We went back inside feeling defeated. Everyone was there with her, and the nurses began to remove the tubes and machines from her body, one by one. Eventually they were all gone, and through our sobbing and words of comfort we watched her breathing slow as the life drained from her. Eventually the breathing stopped, the nurse took her pulse, checked her heartbeat and just bowed down her head and left. Mom was gone, and though we all felt overwhelmed with grief, at least she didn’t have to suffer any longer.
Though this entry has very little to do with actual video games, it has everything to do with how video games positively affect our lives. My Mother lived a life of hardship and turmoil, yet in something as simple as a video game she found comfort, as well as a way to bond with my Sister. On that day it became more than just another video game, it became a collection of memories. For that I am truly grateful.