The sight of your Mom in a hospital bed, frail and unable to speak… that’s when you shed the shell of strength you swore you would wear. You can fool yourself in times like these – hype yourself up like a boxer outside the ring, but when you step into the ring, you’re facing the unknown and no matter how strong you thought you were, you can get knocked the eff out. Blindsided. So as I walked through the threshold of St. Mark’s Rehab-1 Room 2A and saw my Mom lying in a hospital bed, frail and unable to speak… I was blindsided, unable to fight back in the ring, and I shed my shell of strength as I fell onto the bed and into her arms. We said nothing, as a cried and she rubbed my back as any Mother would do for her child in need.
My Mom has always been a quiet lady, never loud or trying to steal the spotlight. In fact, she wasn’t much of a fan of the spotlight. Get her behind the curtain, and she would hold the most chatty, interesting conversation like even the most eloquent of public speakers would… actually better. She is quiet at the most appropriate times, because she is listening. Some may think she is so quiet because she doesn’t have much to say, but what they don’t know is that she is unselfishly listening to their unending chat. Quiet or not, I know my Mom, I know that she would be talking to me in that moment. She would be consoling her 29yr old daughter when, really, it is she who should be consoled. She would say, “Oh, my girl, what are you doing here? You didn’t have to come all the way here. Shame, girl. We didn’t expect this to happen, did we?” With these words, she would be crying with me. We know how to cry. And we do it well. So, we would be crying together. But that’s what would happen, in (what we call) normal days… these aren’t normal days anymore. Mom wasn’t talking, because she couldn’t, and the hardest to accept, Mom wasn’t crying… because she couldn’t. Whatever was going through her mind, it would not let her cry. It truly scared me. She just looked at me, like all was right in the world, and smiled. I wanted to shake her until her face was wet with tears. I wanted to cry with my Mom. But she couldn’t even give me one tear. Through my broken heart, I realized I was the odd one out in this moment – not counting Dad who was hiding in the hallway – I was bringing an emotional reaction to a situation that wasn’t accepting such a reaction. So, I dried my snotty face, took a deep breath and smiled right back at her, “Hey Mom! I’m sorry it took me so long.”