You never prepare yourself for something like this. You never wake up wondering if you’re okay or if your family is okay. I mean, you do, but you’d never expect them to just be extremely sick. There’s nothing in the world that can prepare you for something like that, for something like this…
On June 6th 2016, my mom suffered from a stroke. She’d recently been diagnosed as a diabetic and was very prompt on checking her blood sugar. She’d called her doctors office probably a week prior and told them she was experiencing weird symptoms; numbness in legs, arm, tongue, face as well as slurred speech. She was assured that it was fine, “Nothing to worry about. It’s just side effects of your medicine! Call back in a week if they persist!” She didn’t make it that week…
The following Monday, she’d suffered from a stroke — a pretty severe one at that.
I remember where I was, who I was with, what I was wearing when I got the news. It was a message sent via text, but truthfully I was glad it wasn’t a phone call. I don’t think I could’ve handled hearing the heartbreak and sadness in my father’s voice. I didn’t cry at first, it took me by surprise. It sent me into shock. It was like in the movies when everything slows down and you try to process it all. It all felt so unreal.
My dad called later that night, our mom was asking for us. I was terrified, I wanted to see her but at the same time I was too nervous to see her. My sister, Izzy, was on an end of the year trip for safety patrol. She hadn’t seen us all day and had no idea of the news. I remember my brother telling me to get ready to go the hospital and physically feeling sick at the idea. I felt like crap. I sucked it up and got ready, not to mention I frantically packed a bag of clothes for both my dad and mom. I don’t even think I packed actual outfits or anything that matched to be honest.
The moment we arrived at the hospital, I wanted all so badly to be fake. I hoped that it was a mistake and that my mom would be fine. I can still picture my dad waiting for us at the end of the automatic doors so that he could direct us to the room. I remember the moment I saw him I began to cry uncontrollably. People stared and gawked, but I didn’t care, I just needed to see my mom.
When I finally saw her, my heart broke. I broke down and couldn’t hold it together. The woman who raised me, the strongest person I ever knew, was lying down in a hospital bed, helpless and scared. All that I could do was cry hysterically. I couldn’t even make eye contact with my own mother. I felt terrible. I learned about strokes and how to detect them, I felt almost as if I were responsible for it being as severe as it was. It began to crush me inside and I couldn’t stand the situation we were in.
Later that night we picked my sister up from her field trip and we laughed and joked. We wanted to keep her spirits high as long as possible before we had to deliver such terrible news. She didn’t react the way I had expected, truthfully I think it shocked her more than anything. She’s usually an emotional person, but that night, in that moment, she wasn’t.
I constantly think to myself “what if I had realized sooner?” I’ll always question myself with a million what if’s but it doesn’t matter now. We can’t change the past. We can’t change what happened. Trust me, if I could change what happened, I would. If I could fast forward over these next few months, I would. I try not to beat myself up over it. The stroke itself was preventable, but tons of other things played as catalysts. This isn’t an easy journey and it’s far from over, this is still only the beginning.