Friday, April 2, 2010
...Let me rephrase that--I'm coming back to life, like the trees that are finally blooming up and down the streets of Manhattan, after a very long winter, and a pretty horrible March.
The Cliffs notes version is my mom had a brain aneurysm and a brain bleed. Out of nowhere. And she's very, very lucky to be alive. It's weird writing this blog, because when I do (which as we all know isn't all that often...) I have to remember that a lot of the people who come to this site are my readers, so they're younger. But then there's also other authors, or my friends, or my dad, or other people for whom high school was a long, long time ago. So keeping all that in mind, I feel like I have to be mindful of what I say. You know, nothing inappropriate. (Not like I walk around saying inappropriate things.) (Okay, maybe I do occasionally.)
But when I was thinking about what I wanted to say about this experience, it was this...
I think part of being a mother, and part of being a daughter -- part of being a human being, really -- is that people are occasionally, or maybe even regularly, going to drive you crazy. And you'll fight with them, and complain about the fact that they don't understand you, but the whole time that's happening, in the back of your mind you're always thinking "But it's not like I really have to deal with that now and accept that they're human beings and remember that at the end of the day, we're all just doing the best we can, so why not just cut someone a break...I mean, why should I do that now when I have, oh, I don't know, the next 30 years or so to do that?"
And then someone has a brain aneurysm and almost dies and you realize that, um, maybe you DON'T have 30 years to do that. In fact, maybe you should think about doing that, you know, NOW.
So a few weeks ago I went to Arizona, where my parents live, to see my mom in the hospital. And the first day I was there, she was pretty out of it, but I got to hold her hand, like in the picture, and it was still soft and it was still warm, and amazingly enough, her nails still looked good which I'm sure she would have been really glad to know because she's always had impeccably manicured hands. And then the second afternoon when I got there, she was a little more coherent, and she recognized me which made me happy and relieved. And then when my dad and I went back there that night, she was even more coherent and this time when she saw me, she smiled and the nurse came in and said "Look, she's smiling!" which made me really happy. And even though my dad had told me that while her short-term memory was a problem at the moment because of the aneurysm, her long-term memory was still perfectly in tact. However, I of course had to find this out for myself, lest I leave the next morning for L.A. still worrying, which is pretty much all I had been doing since this aneurysm business started. So I started saying "Hey Mom, remember when we did this when I was little.." and "Remember when we did that..." and interestingly all the memories I had at that moment just happened to be all this really GREAT stuff that happened when I was young. Stuff that, frankly, I hadn't thought about in years. Like how when I was in the hospital for 2 weeks for my back when I was 13, she'd come and spend all day with me.
And as I was talking to her, she looked at me and she said "I was a really good mother" and I squeezed her hand and I said "Yes. You certainly were. And you still ARE."
'Cause she was. And she is.
So the moral of the story is, please remember that as much as you'd like to think you have 30 years to get it all together (or, if you're one of my readers, 80 years), the truth is, sadly, that's not always the case. And if your mom is still around, think about going up to her, or calling her on the phone and saying "Hey Mom--you know what? You're a really good mom." Even if, at that moment, she's driving you crazy or you might not think she understands you. Not only will it make her feel good, but I have a feeling it'll make YOU feel even better.
'Cause here's the thing--your mom? Chances are she's doing the best she can. Just like you're doing the best you can. And I bet she loves you very, very much. And when we can remember that, it seems to make this dealing-with-human-beings thing A LOT easier.