Never Forget

May 17, 2017 at 7:10 pm 2 comments

As time passes, we grow taller, we go grayer. We live and learn. We spread our wings and hit the earth with a thud. We swallow big wormy bites of knowledge. Our hopeful little faces get shoved behind the curtain for a good long look. And magic slips away, like baby teeth taken by force instead of fairies.

I’m five decades in, and I know storybooks are fiction. I know the good guy doesn’t always win. I’m well aware that things don’t turn out according to plan. I have figured out that the broken places are weaker, not stronger (and I remain baffled by the origin and existence of many other pithy adages).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an unhappy person or a truly cynical one, but my soul wears a tattered cape, and Hope is an aged and weary soldier who, sometimes, late into an evening, talks of retiring. I know bad things happen. I know terrible things happen. I’ve heard the unexpected phone ring. I’ve held a fragile hand. It is an awful, awful truth that you reach an age when you’re wise enough to know that the end is near.

But, here’s the thing:  Experience does not equal omnipotence.

Sometimes, you sit in a hospital room and cry — for joy. Sometimes, luck is on your side. Sometimes, prayers are answered. Sometimes,­ the news is good.

This past Sunday, our family celebrated Mother’s Day with a low-key, quiet dinner. Nothing fancy. No big surprises. Just a simple gathering with good food, three generations at the table, and lots of hugging. Best. Mother’s Day. Ever.

Some weeks ago, my Mom wasn’t feeling well, and we didn’t know what was wrong. On April 24th, we found out:  She had a bilateral subdural hematoma, which is blood accumulating in the skull, putting pressure on the brain. At 8:00 a.m. on April 26, she went into surgery.

I will never forget how it felt to let go of her hand that morning. I will never forget how it felt to wait, and only wait, because it was impossible to read or eat or speak. I will never forget that, except for some incredible luck, the grace of God, and my parents’ dogged attempts to get a fourth opinion, we would have lost her — but that is an abyss from which I must back away. So, instead, I will end with this. I will never again forget this:

My entire life, my mother’s love has been a selfless, stoic, unwavering certainty. It has been as steady an aspect of my being as breathing. So much so, that I may have at times treated it like something ordinary. Or as if it were something of mine, like a possession I earned or a prize I deserved. But it’s not about me. It’s not about me at all. It’s all about her. And I don’t know what I would do or who I would be without it.

Entry filed under: Life Preservers. Tags: , , , , .

Dear Andrew McCutchen

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