My mother has been sick since I was twelve. She went from normal working healthy mom to nearly dying multiple times to disabled likely to suddenly end up in the hospital in what seemed to me to be a finger snap. I don't really clearly remember the start just before and after. I was in middle school and caught up in all that stress and excitement and change, for me this was one of those changes. My parents, and grandparents protected my sister and me from most of the fear they held. It is what parents do. So mom being sick became just a normal part of our lives. Most of the time we don't much think about it. There are things she can't do, there are tons of medications and things she needs to help her. Most of the time her illness doesn't really get in the big picture of our lives. It is something that is normal. Most daughters don't have a spare oxygen concentrater tucked in their front closet in case mom needs it. Most people don't plan three hours for security at the airport. Taking her places is a hassle but it is just our lives.
And we live them. She especially loves the crafting retreat time we take together and joining me demonstrating at Garfield Farm Museum. She will sometimes, if she is feeling good, come along to a craft show, and keep me company. She feels bad about not being able to help, but really it is nice having her there to talk to, or to watch the cash box so I can go to the bathroom without worrying.
Yesterday, she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and a stomach virus. She is miserable, but getting the care she needs.
Dad's phone call, "Julie, we are at er, looks like your mom is buying a bed." Brought back so many memories, fears, and struggles. I couldn't get a hold of him. He left that message on my voicemail, but the Emergency department at the hospital is in the basement and he had no service. I tried all the numbers I had but I couldn't reach him. I started to drive down - about an hour away, she was admitted about 1am so the call was at about 10pm - he called again and told me to go home. Truthfully, this time mom is okay. They will fix this, she recover, they caught it in time, but the call was the same.
The same as four years ago, I had then as now seen her two days before and she was fine. This time when she went to bed to rest and he checked on her a few hours later she had a fever of 104.8. Last time she was not responsive. This time, he got her up and to the car, last time was a 911 call. Last time was four weeks on a ventilator and her doctor, literally, sleeping by her bedside. Last time she was lost, but came back to us. This time she will stay in hospital for a few days and come home stronger. Last time she was discharged from the hospital to a rehabilitation hospital for weeks.
Yesterday, was the four year anniversary of that discharge.
I say "last time" when in truth it wasn't literally the last time, she has been in hospital since then, but Pneumonia very nearly took her before and has her down again. I don't really remember the fear from when her health started to fail. I became accustomed to the hospitals, stress, and extra work that was normal and fundamental in our lives. I remember, with painful clarity the doom and despair on my father's face from last time. I remember sitting in her hospital room with only the sound of the machines keeping her alive, reading her my textbook.
She is and will be fine. But my heart is stalled at "looks like your mom is buying a bed."