I taught class tonight, finished up about 9:30. I loaded my books and papers into my car, then checked my cell phone to see if anyone had called.
There were 7 messages. That’s an inordinately high number for a Monday night. I checked to see whose numbers came up on missed calls. There was my step-dad’s cell phone, my husband’s cell phone, my house, and my sister. I checked the messages and learned that my mother had been admitted to the hospital.
A wave of nausea hit me. “Here we go again,” was all I could think of. My hands shook so fiercely that I could barely hold the phone to dial. I got a hold of my husband on his cell phone.
“Everything is under control,” were the first words out of his mouth.
It must be really bad I thought.
“Your mom is fine, and she is doing great.”
“She’s in the hospital,” I said. “She’s obviously not fine or she’d be at home.
It appears that Mom had a blood clot in her leg that broke loose and headed for her lungs, causing or becoming an embolism. I’m not sure of the details, but I know this much – she could have been killed had they not being paying such close attention to her.
I asked to talk to my mom. “I hope this isn’t your way of getting out of fixing Thanksgiving dinner,” I said. She laughed, a good healthy laugh. She sounded calm, she sounded comfortable, so I calmed down myself.
“Oh, I’ll be just fine by then,” she said.
“How long will you be there?” I asked.
“Five to seven days.”
My thinking is that if you’re spending more than 24 hours in the hospital, things are fairly serious. It might be an erroneous thought, but I’ve found it to hold true more times than not.
“I’ll come by after class tomorrow,” I told her. She agreed, handed the phone back to my husband, and I told him I’d meet him at home. It was past 10:00 already and I hadn’t even had dinner yet.
I cranked the heat in the car on the way home to keep from shaking.
I teach seven classes a week, plus the preparation time and grading that I do. I have three kids with busy schedules. I have organizations that I’m involved with, a husband I like to spend time with, friends who I like to see on occasion, and a three foot high stack of books I hope to read at some point. I juggle them all as if I were juggling running chain saws, being careful to give each the necessary attention. But tonight, I am overwhelmed. It has been less than a year since I lost my dad, and I would utterly collapse if something happened to my mom.
I’m shaking as though I were walking naked in the snow. I can’t stop crying, though I know my mother is fine. But I couldn’t bear losing my mom right now. She is one of my best friends. She is my rock when I need her. She has always been there for me, and I am horrified to think I could lose her.
I’m trying to console myself with thoughts that she is fine and will be home by the weekend. But for the first time, I’ve been faced with her age and her mortality. I got used to with my dad. For 15 years I waited for that call that finally came just days after my birthday. For 15 years I visited Dad in ER and hospitals rooms, being told all the while to prepare for the worst and being amazed when he would pull off another miraculous recovery.
But I am not ready for that with my mom. I am not ready to have to visit her in another antiseptic, impersonal hospital room. Of course, I will go anyway. I have to. Not that she wouldn’t understand if I just went home after class, but I couldn’t live with myself for that. I will suppress the fact that I feel overwhelmed, that I have to cancel a lunch date with a friend, that work is piling up on my desk. I will not let her worry about me. And somehow or another, I’ll figure out how to squash the emotions that are threatening to drown me.
Tomorrow I’ll visit her in the hospital, and I’ll go every day until she goes home. She would do it for me.