This month marks the one-year-anniversary of a life-altering car crash that has left my mother hospitalized ever since. I never realized the devastating affect of losing a parent until it almost happened to me.
The feelings are indescribable, the pain runs deep and the heart wrenching turmoil is reminiscent of a movie nightmare.
Can you imagine waking up to more than 10 missed phone calls in the wee hours of the morning to a crackling voice on the opposite end saying, “Mom was in a terrible accident leaving work, it doesn’t look good.” What does that even mean?
My sisters and I jetted on the first flight out and the plane ride, as well as the commute from the airport, seemed like an eternity. Once we finally arrived to the hospital and entered through the doors of ICU, the waiting room was jam packed full of family members and close friends. The blank stare on everyone’s faces was unforgettable. I wasn’t sure if I should run to the nearest exit, allow my knees to give out as they began to buckle or force myself to face the inevitable. As we entered my mom's room, my father almost sighed in relief, embracing us as if to never let go. Ironically, at the same time, the doctors were trying to convince him that chances for her survival were low, and that hospice was the best option.
I made my way to my mother’s bedside. As I stared at my mommy’s swollen body, full of tubes, IVs and a ventilator machine to keep her alive–barely–every part of my inner being was crushed.
The final diagnosis: severe brain damage because of the lack of oxygen when she fell into cardiac arrest, possible paralysis from the neck down due to the spinal cord injury, years of memory loss because of the traumatic brain injury and worst case scenario, the inability to ever speak again, one of the long term effects of suffering from a massive stroke.
One of the generational values instilled in me throughout the years has been never to question God. As I learned more about the severity of my mom’s condition, admittedly, God and I had a falling out.
Maybe my mom’s accident served as punishment for me? Regardless, I couldn’t wrap my head around it, why do bad things seem to happen to good people? I pushed these thoughts back and leaned on my faith as hard as I could. Although, God has a funny way of carrying out his divine plan, you have to be willing to trust, believe and claim the victory in advance.
Less than 48 hours prior to the accident, my family had gathered to witness our close friends renew their vows for their 40th anniversary. Everything was perfect! Standing next to my Mom’s bedside, all I wanted to do was to go back to those moments, to the way we were. Instead, I learned the meaning of the old cliche: time is precious, and you can never get it back again.
They say God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. I like to consider myself as part of God’s elite crew. I could’ve never imagined that a devastating situation like this could be filled with hidden blessings. The uncertainty of my Mom’s condition could’ve taken me under and probably should have; but if I can wake up each morning with a fresh new perspective, making it through this, then I have the tenacity and will power to make it through just about anything.
A year later, the genuine concern and support we receive is remarkable. Ranging from amazing health care employees and co-workers, to long lost relatives and childhood friends, it’s a blessing to see the devotion and loyalty my mom gave to so many people being reciprocated during her time of need. With the outpour of love and support from family and friends I’ve come to terms that this is the new normal for me and I graciously accept the challenge.
My dad is the real MVP and a hero in his own right. When doctors assured him pulling the plug was the only way to go, he relentlessly stood his ground insisting that was not an option. He said with strength and sincerity, “You may have seen a thousand cases like this, but I don’t have a thousand wives and my children don’t have a thousand mothers.” Barely leaving my mother’s bedside, he continues to be her partner. My dad has taught me the essence of unconditional love and the power to fight for and on behalf of what is precious to you, especially someone as priceless as a woman whose love and sacrifice for me, and many who know her, is irreplaceable.
Although unable to vocalize at this time, my mom is still here with me and communicates through blinks, one for "yes" and two for "no." The people who I’ve chosen to surround myself with during this ordeal have encouraged and uplifted our family in one way or another, keeping us focused on the bigger picture. While there is a long road ahead I’m thankful we still have a fighting chance for recovery. If nothing else, I hope that anyone reading this will allow my mom’s accident to serve as proof that anything can happen. Life is short, so appreciate the journey.