As I drove to the hospital this past Tuesday to go visit my mom, my stomach was one big, twisted knot. My younger brother saw our mom the day before and said it was weird seeing her like that. That being vulnerable.
We’re big kids now, but I guess we still kind of think of Mom as a superhero who has no kryptonite (unless you count her never-ending loyalty to the Cubs). So there was a disconnect between the image I have of my mom and what I saw when I walked into the room.
Nothing – nothing – prepares you to see a loved one supine in a hospital bed surrounded by a maze of medical tubes and contraptions.
All things considering, she looked great. She had come out of extensive surgery less than 24 hours earlier. As I looked at her, I kept telling myself, “This is not a life or death hospital stay. This is hopefully going to make her feel better. It’s not like she has cancer or something.”
Intellectually I knew all of this, but emotionally I felt like I’d been scraped out and there was nothing left inside of me but the realization that someday my mom – this beautiful, strong woman I love and admire who tucked notes beneath my pillow at night and introduced me to a personal God who would be there for me even when she couldn’t be – was going to die and worse, I might have to helplessly watch it happen.
When I first arrived, we casually talked. We prayed together. I made M.E. giggle for Mom (talk about good therapy).
Then I started to cry.
I had every intention of not letting my emotional drawbridge down; I certainly didn’t want to burden Mom with worries about how her daughter was feeling when she needed to be focusing on her recovery and rehabilitation. But there’s something about being in a room with Mom. You let your guard down. You say what you’re feeling, and you know you won’t be judged. You tell her, “It’s hard seeing you like this,” and you find her forehead through a film of tears and you kiss it. You’ve seen a glimpse of her mortality, and you are afraid, so you seek her comfort even when you know she’s the one who could use some emotional pampering. And she gives it to you with no questions asked. She gladdens your heart, makes you laugh, and tells you to stop being so hard on yourself. And she reminds you that even when your baby is 30 years old, motherhood never really stops being about giving.
*Mom’s scheduled to come home from the hospital today, and the girls and I care eager to start pampering HER!