Updated: Jul 3, 2020
I recall when my mom had a stroke about four years ago. The paramedics rushed her to the emergency room while my dad & I followed along behind in the car. Needless to say, I was on high alert with my mind racing through many different outcomes. She appeared to have her mind about her when I got to the house, which was a good thing. But what if? You know, the what if's we all ask ourselves daily.
Walking through the emergency room I see my mom on the bed in one of the treatment rooms with doctors and nurses surrounding her. Inside I'm totally freaking out but on the outside I kept it all cool. I have a tendency to say crazy shit when I'm terrified. I've had many chances to play this out over the years with my family members. In other words, I've been terrified a shit ton of times. So I go into crazy talk mode with the following:
"Mom, how are you feeling?"
"Oh, Michelle, I don't know."
This is where I try to make things better but it turns into crazy talk.
"We'll there's one plus - at least your hair looks good."
"MICHELLE, I DON'T CARE ABOUT MY HAIR RIGHT NOW."
"Okay, okay, I'm just trying to take your mind off things."
As I look back on those days & with both my parents having passed away on the same day in February 2018, I think what I wanted to say was that "I care how you look mom. Because deep inside it's important to me that you don't look ill. I can't bare the thought of losing you. I need you in my life, I need things to stay the same. You and dad are a constant in my life & how will I live without you?"
So many times when mom would try to talk to me about dying, I would try to tell her not to worry. She was doing well & wasn't going anywhere. I know it's impossible sometimes to get the perspective we need in the midst of a situation. That it's only after the crisis has passed that we are able to clearly understand what the hell happened & why we reacted the way we did. Though I still wish I had told my mom straight up the following:
"You are one of the strongest women I know. These past five years I have gotten to know you so much more deeply. You have no idea how much we all depend upon you. From the outside looking in, it appears that dad is the strongest one amongst us. But I know the quiet strength you have. The deep well of wisdom you draw from on a daily basis to keep moving forward, when a lesser person would have given up a long time ago. I know your hanging on for the rest of us. Your quality of life has been diminished for a good while now. But still your here, laughing at the absurdity of life, loving all us crazy people around you. Telling us when we need to straighten up and fly right. You are and always have been an inspiration to me, mom."