Friday, May 10, 2013

My Brave Mom

Mother's Day is this Sunday, which means cards are currently being sent and flowers ordered for mothers everywhere. I am no exception - a card has been sent and my mom has been enjoying her roses since Wednesday. However, I've been thinking a lot about more than just flowers and cards recently. I've been thinking about the different traits we get from our mothers, either genetic or learned. For example, my siblings and I all inherited our mom's light blue eyes and incredibly thick hair. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who occasionally hears her mother's voice come out of her mouth. (Hi Hungry, I'm Mommy.)

However, the trait of my mother's that I most admire now isn't one I necessarily recall from childhood, but a more recent acquisition.

My Mom is the bravest person I know.
She doesn't go around slaying giant spiders or flying fighter jets. Nope, she's brave because she gets up and lives every day. Despite the confusion and frustration she carries with her always, she gets up and does it anyway. Every. Single. Day.

Over two years ago my mom contracted viral encephalitis. Her brain swelled to a damaging degree. Viral encephalitis is often fatal, but my strong mom fought and fought, even though she was unaware of what she was fighting. She was hospitalized for a month and dealt with a treatment protocol that was daring and unconventional, but she lived. (And don't think I take that for granted for one minute. The fact that my mom is still here is nothing short of a miracle. Every time I see her or hear her voice on the phone, I breathe that in and out. She-is-a-living-miracle-and-I-am-grateful, she-is-a-living-miracle-and-I-am-grateful.)

For as difficult as the treatment and hospitalization was, the real challenges began when she went home and tried to learn to live again. Viral encephalitis affects all its patients differently, some suffer speech and comprehension loss, others lose motor skills, and others still recover with no trace of permanent effects. This cruel virus took my mother's memory.
Imagine that, no memories. 
Milestones such as a wedding day, or the births of three children - gone. 
Silly inside jokes known only to the closest friends and family members - gone. 
Rocking and singing babies to sleep - gone. 
Helping a daughter pick out a wedding dress, holding a first grandchild, cheering at a son's baseball game - all of it just gone. 

I don't know how I would deal with such a loss, but I know how my mother dealt with it, and continues to deal with it everyday. 
She bravely puts one foot in front of the other and keeps walking forward. She pays attention and is constantly taking in her surroundings and the people. She asks questions and writes things down. It's hard work and overwhelmingly frustrating at times and she does it anyway.  
In the two years following my mom's illness, she's grown and become a whole person again. She has friends and talks to her kids on Sundays. She goes on long bike rides with a friend down the street and quilts in the little shop in town. But she still deals with the permanent effects of a heartless disease. She still has moments where nothing and no person is recognizable. She still checks her "Don't Forget" list on the door before she goes to work in the mornings. And she still bravely gets up and lives every day.
Every. Single. Day.

I am humbled by her humility, greatly admire her diligence and fortitude, and can only sit in awe of her bravery.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I'm glad I have your thick hair and blue eyes, but don't think I can ever attain your level of courage and bravery.

1 comment:

Genevieve West said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother. Your writing really touched my heart. Thank you for sharing this with us.