Just a few months ago, I wrote about how I had to explain death to my 4 year old as he sobbed in my arms saying, “I don’t want you to die mommy.” Death is unavoidable. It is a topic not many feel comfortable discussing or even thinking about when it comes to loosing family and friends. Unfortunately, as we get older, we will probably all eventually come face to face with losing a loved one.
Nobody wants to think about losing their parents.
My son couldn’t fathom the thought at just 4 years of age. Unfortunately, I don’t think it gets any easier to accept as you get older. I think the majority of us tend to put it out of our minds and not think about the thought unless maybe someone is diagnosed with and living with a terminal illness or disease.
I know it wasn’t something that was on the forefront of my mind. However, almost exactly 2 months ago, while watching my kids play at the splash pad, I received a phone call from one of my sisters telling me that my mother had been taken by ambulance to the hospital. They thought she was having a stroke and that it was serious, and I needed to come right away. I remember having disbelief that this wasn’t real, quickly followed by sheer panic. My husband was out of the state on business, I had both kids soaking wet in swimsuits, and we were an hour away from the city where my mom lives. I knew I had to remain somewhat calm for the sake of my son and daughter. There were tons of people praying for my mom and our family, and I believe without a doubt that helped keep me calm and give me a sense of peace while in route to the hospital.
While driving to the hospital, I found out that my mom had suffered a massive heart attack and had flat lined in the ambulance. The reality was setting in that I may never see her again and that my kids might never see their Granny again. As hard as that was to think about at the time, it is still hard to process because I just busted into tears as I write about it now. It is still so fresh. She is my mom. She has loved me and cared for me my whole life.
The thought of me never seeing her again is heart wrenching.
The cardiologist had given a report to my family that was in the waiting room that my mom has suffered what was referred to as the widow maker. He explained that she was lucky to be alive, and in fact, that most people that suffer that type of heart attack rarely make it to the hospital alive. He also told them she flat lined a few times while in the emergency room. My sister told me to come to the hospital and that they would be bringing her out so family could see her before they took her to ICU. I had arranged to drop my children off with my husband’s family that live near the hospital, but after hearing all this on the phone, I honestly just wanted to see her face and know that she was okay. I got to the hospital, with my 4 and 5 year old in tow, and within minutes, they wheeled her out into the hall where we waited. Seeing her alive was relieving, but at the same time terrifying because we were not sure of her prognosis.
I stayed in town for a week. My sisters and I would take turns spending the night at the hospital until she was discharged 6 days later. She didn’t have open heart surgery, but instead had balloon angioplasty and stent which made for an easier recovery. My kids and I came back home because I knew she didn’t need the stress of them around as she recovered. The cardiologist explained that most people that suffer a heart attack do well as long as they take their medication and make changes to their lifestyle related to diet and exercise. My mom will actually find out this week the percentage of damage or death that occurred to her heart muscle. Again, just typing those words gives me anxiety and fear. I know without a doubt that God wasn’t ready for her to leave this earth just yet, so I am hopeful that the damage is minimal and that further damage can be prevented.
In all actuality, my mom is doing great.
She feels better now than before she had the heart attack because now more blood and oxygen can be delivered to her heart. She has started cardiac rehab, is taking her meds, and is eating healthy while trying to eliminate the unneeded stress from her life. She is fighting some anxiety, but I think that is to be expected after such a life threatening situation.
While I was spending my days at the hospital, I managed to keep it all together. Since returning home and trying to get back to normal, falling apart is about all I do now. I have been extremely anxious. The first couple of weeks home, I started noticing my heart racing and having palpitations. As the weeks went on, I began to have indigestion with abdominal pain. If people ask me about how my mom is doing, I always say she is doing great, but end up busting into tears immediately. I am still having a hard time processing everything that happened or thinking about how I could have lost my mom forever. I have been to the doctor, and they have done many test including an EKG, Ultrasound, among other things trying to figure out what is going on with my body. I am currently taking 3 prescription medications (one acid reducer, one to coat my esophagus, and another for anxiety).
I just started to feel better the last few days, and I really believe all my symptoms are a result of anxiety and stress.
You only get one mom. Just like it was hard for my son to process at 4 years old, it is still just as hard as an adult at 36 years of age. The thought of living my life without my mom around is something I would rather not think about, but unfortunately, it is something weighing heavily on my mind. My mom’s close encounter with death is something that has made me realize the importance of spending time with her, to cherish the moments, and to tell her I love her because one day she will leave this earth. Once again, as a type those words and the tears flow down my face, I become aware that I’m not ready to face that thought yet and that one day I will never hear her say, “I love you.”
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21: 4-5 (NIV)