It would be nice if I were chatting with you on the phone right now. Is it olive oil or salt that I add to a pot of boiling water prior to dropping in the noodles? Or both? I would tell you how the boys caught a spider on a bug hunt just for you! And guess what? The spider’s abdomen (or, “butt,” as Charlie calls it) is orange! I would say you are loved and amazing. The thing is, I will tell you all of this the next time I visit you in the hospital. But there won’t be a response. It will be horrible and terrifying. It will make me ashamed and sad, because I’ve realized something: I’ve taken you for granted, and for that, I’m sorry.
You never had the money to buy a car for me or finance my college degree. I CAN, however, say you’ve given me so much more. See, money can’t buy happiness. Not true happiness anyway. You can’t put a price on resiliency and faith. What you’ve given me is priceless…You’ve given me a listening ear, tales of triumph from past struggles, and confidence. You raised me with a “give to others” and “it’s not a big deal” mentality. You taught me that no matter the circumstances, I should put God first, keep my faith, count my blessings, and wear lipstick and earrings. I know that I’m loved. I know that until you walk in someone else’s footsteps (parenting a sick child, single parenting, seeing a parent hospitalized while caring for a young child, just to name a couple…), you should never offer judgement, only support. I thought I could handle life better than you, and I was mistaken. It turns out, I can only handle life better with your assistance because you know so much more than I know. How many women can make hunts for raccoons and cats at 4 am enjoyable? Thank you for taking the time to make life fun even when you needed to be at work before sunrise. Now that I think of it….my scholarships and student loans are a badge of honor. They don’t say, “My mom couldn’t help me through school.” They say, “My mom helped me develop a self-efficacy and determination that I can never repay. My degree is because of her.” One day, I’ll pay off my college debt. But how do I repay you?
For one, I’ve been on my hands and knees begging God on your behalf. A little blonde boy joins me in our pleas… We ask God for so much, and we thank Him for so much more. I’m preparing your medical binder to keep track of everything that’s occurring. I visit daily and stay as long as possible. I write thank you notes to those providing excellent care. But I’d prefer to never leave your side. It would be best if I could stop everything around me except for your care. I hope you’re not disappointed in me. Aunt Nancy helps by relieving some guilt and taking your place in listening. Your other children? Samantha, David, and Daniel, have gone above and beyond. Especially Sam. She’s ALWAYS there. She’s kind and gentle. She’s optimistic and compassionate. Wasn’t I that way for Charlie’s hospital stays? I don’t know what’s happening…The thing is, it’s one thing to kick into mommy gear and care for a critical and hospitalized child. It’s an entirely separate thing to be the child needing to care for your mom. I suppose inevitably we all care for someone, it’s just too soon. I thought I was a grown woman, but I’m your child. Besides, you were there to help me help Charlie. I’m not ready. Mom, I need you. More importantly, you need me. You need me to show more respect, patience and kindness. You need me to make plans for us to visit the beach and eat fried shrimp. You need to see your grandchildren play under your pecan trees. You need to hear their voices pray before bed. You need to get better.
I can’t even send this to you for a quick proof-read before publishing. Should I add anything? Did I leave anything out? What’s the message you get? I hope anyone reading this forgives a past wrongdoing, loves deeper, and makes amends where it’s due. I hope when you’re out of the hospital, you take time to read about how much you’re loved. There are heart prints everywhere….here, on my blog, on Facebook with all of the messages, in your ICU journal from Sam, and in the cards and notes so lovingly left by everyone. In the event you’re too busy digging in the sand and soaking up the sun, I’ll just have to show it. It’s like that, isn’t it? Be thoughtful. Speak kindly. Give with all your heart.
When we see you tomorrow, I’ll bring the pink flamingo from Grandpa, and I’ll say what Charlie says every single day, “Grandma needs to wake up. It’s time to play.”
Finally, some scripture for you:
When you wake up scared and confused: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10
For the times you need to conquer the uncertainties: “Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Each time you need to stay strong and block out despair: “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8
When you have to answer the question, “Why me?”: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” -2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I can already see us….paying it forward by using our struggles and experiences to help others in the way we were helped during our suffering. There are no words to express my gratitude for you and showing me how much God does (and can do). Mom, I love. you!
Happy and Hopeful,
P.S. I don’t know that you’ve ever heard Tupac, but he’s on point with these lyrics….“I wish I could take the pain away. If you can make it through the night, there’s a brighter day. Everything will be all right if you hold on. It’s a struggle everyday, gotta roll on. And there’s no way I can pay you back. But my plan is to show that I understand. You are appreciated.”
One final thought…When Charlie sings, “Hip-hip-hippopotamus, hip-hip-hooray, God made all of us,” I smile and think how wonderful it is that I am his mom and that you are mine.