Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Mother's Day Healing

It happened about six months ago. While I was on my way to work, I got a text from my mom. “I fell. It hurts so bad.”

It was the week of my college graduation. The ceremony was in four days and my mom was supposed to get on a plane in two. Let’s also not forget the fact that I get my balance from my mom...or lack thereof.

I think the best way to show my mom’s character is by what happened next. I asked my mom what we should do.

“Oh everyone’s day has already started I don’t want to bother them.” Only a mother - and only Mary May - would feel as though no one owed her a favor in this moment.

“Mom can you walk?”
“Well then you have about five minutes to tell me who to call.”

I still thought that she would be okay - that it was just a sprain or a pulled muscle.

Luckily, having your entire family within a 10-block radius helps you when you’re in a tough spot. My cousin, and later my aunt and other cousin, all joined my mom at the hospital.

That night, we found out just how bad we already knew it was. My mom called me as I left the gym. “I broke my tibia plateau. I can’t walk....and I can’t come to your graduation, Hannah. I’m so sorry.”

We sobbed. We sat on the phone and cried and cried. It’s one of those times in your life when you can’t be upset at a thing or a person and you don’t know where to put that emotion. You can’t blame anything, because it was an accident.

I was out of it the next few days. My mom is my superhero. She’s never broken a bone! She’s been my number one cheerleader through my whole college career and she wouldn’t be able to see the end result! It was so crazy that she needed surgery and that she couldn’t walk. My brother and I had to stay at school since LSU is about 900 Miles from our home in Chicago. Luckily, our family sprang into action and never left her side.

After graduation, we FaceTimed my little - Mary May don’t fret; and after a weekend of celebration, my brother, Jack, and I headed north. My mom’s surgery was December 22, and we made it home while she was still in surgery.

We dropped off our stuff and met our aunt at the hospital. My aunt stayed with my mom for 12 hours at the hospital! That’s the kind of family we are - incredibly close and very dependable.

The surgeon came to talk to us after. He told us it wasn’t as bad as he thought, but it would take about a year before my mom could walk normally again. A year.

My mom has walked to and from the train to commute to her job for 36 years. How was this all going to play out?

“She can’t put weight on her leg for about two months and then she’ll have to completely relearn how to walk,” the surgeon said.

What? Was this real life?

During the first week, my mom was still coming to. She had an amazing team at Rush Hospital. Our family and friends helped us out, and Jack and I had each other. My mom probably doesn’t remember the first week or two because of the anesthesia.

Once she was more aware, we could start to heal. It’s hard to see progress when you see the small daily inches toward success. I often had to take a step back so I could cheer her on.

“Mom, we couldn’t do this a week ago!”

I finally got a glimpse into what being a mom was like. Helping someone 24 hours a day, always being on call, always being ready to go. Doing the errands, working, and making sure that everyone is happy and taken care of. But if my mom has done it for me for 23 years, I knew I could rise to the occasion for her.

All I wanted my mom to do was focus on healing. I wasn’t working for the first month or two while my mom was home. We laughed and we cried and we watched a lot of Kathy Lee & Hoda. We watched almost every news program throughout the day - we were almost overly informed.

We learned a lot about handicap accessibility, our limits, and when to ask for help.

Over time, we graduated from hopping around with a walker, to taking actual steps with a walker - then to a cane, and eventually to nothing. My mom has worked as hard as she has every day her whole life and we’re so proud of her.

Not every day is perfect, but there’s something perfect in every day.

Tomorrow, my mom and I will fly to my brother’s college graduation. She won’t need her walker or a recliner, but she may need an ice pack or two.

We’re not completely out of the dark, but she is serious about getting better and committed to her health. This brief 6-month period has taught me a lot about what moms have to do every day.

Even when you’re tired, you had a crappy day or you need sleep, family comes first. They don’t take sick days, they don’t give up on you no matter how dramatic your teenage years are. They’re willing to listen to every insignificant detail of your day, because they love you.

Mom’s give and they give and they give. So while I’m so happy that this weekend is Mother’s Day, you should appreciate your mom for everything she’s done for you every single day of the year.

I’m so proud of all my mom’s hard work, and I’m so excited to see what our future holds. We’re going on walks, we’re going on trips, and we’re laughing and making the most of what we can.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.
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