First Look In Over Two Months
On March 3, my mother suffered a severe stroke that affected a large portion of the left side of her brain. At the time of her stroke, we weren’t sure she would survive it. Neurologists told us that she would never speak or walk again and that she most likely wouldn’t recognize us or remember who we were. They gave us no hope. Our family, devastated and broken by her tragic predicament pulled together and rallied around her.
Today, while her right arm and leg are still paralyzed, there is movement in her right foot on occasion that is not a reflex action but is instead distinct and intentional. She still can not speak but she can sing and has been known to say certain phrases. She understands most everything that we are saying to her and while communication is difficult and seemingly one sided at times, we are learning new forms of communication and continue to work on old forms and movement.
My father, has spent every day and night by her bedside holding her hand and giving his support. Married for 50 years, whenever one was ill, the other sat vigilant by their side caring for them, loving them and providing the inspiration to get better and come home. This time, while the illness was overwhelming horrific, his dedication and love never once wavered….not even a little. When she became angry because he couldn’t understand her he rarely, if ever, lost patience. When she cried gut wrenching tears at being trapped in a body that would no longer do what she wanted it to, he gently touched her face and wiped away her tears telling her everything was going to be alright. As a child, I never understood the depth of their kind of love. As an adult, I realize just how lucky my brother and I were to have been born into a family with parents who not only have this much love for each other but for their children too.
On October 7th, this all changed as our family took another hit. Dad went in for surgery on his spinal cord. He spinal cord had gradually become so pinched that spinal fluid was not allowed to flow normally from his brain to the rest of his body. Surgery was not elective. If he didn’t have the problem corrected, he faced eventually being wheelchair bound without the use of his legs and arms. Surgery went well but he ended up with pneumonia which led to breathing problems and worsening pneumonia. He is still in the hospital and is in seemingly stable condition. Throughout his stay, he had several close calls that my brother and I feared he wouldn’t come back from. All of them involved having to be intibated with a breathing tube and as a result, had to have a tracheotomy to insure proper breathing. But he proves to be as strong as my mother in his resolve to get better. The only thing he wants and the only thing he cares about is seeing my mom again and being by her side. My mother, who wishes she could do the same for him, has not been the same since he has been gone. She no longer takes part in physical or speech therapy and has been having a difficult time living life without him.
I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and loss they both must be enduring. This weekend, with the help of The Ride, my brother and I were able to finally get them together for their first look in a little over two months. The visit was a surprise to both of them. We kept it under wraps because the last two times they were about to see each other, emergencies occurred and the trips had to be cancelled.
As I watched my father mouthed the words “everything is going to be ok” to my mom who stared intently at his lips deciphering his words, I began to believe it myself.