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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Those life- Altering slices of life...

first posted in June....





My second born, my only daughter, my Heather......

Heather has always been......

A whirlwind of stubbornness, strength, pure will, and impish good cheer..........

Heather entered the world on a crest of noise and enthusiasm.......

and she never stopped for 16 years......

She was an energetic bundle of constant noise and motion.............

until November 1, 2004...............

I'd had one of those horrifying, heart- stopping, before dawn, phone calls.......

I heard words like: "Head Injury", "Airlifted To The Hospital", "You need to come"...... and......

"We don't know"................

Don't know...............

There are some words you never want to hear when it's your child........

"Don't Know", is definitely in the top 3............

"Don't Know", began one of the longest journey's I ever experienced as a mother............

"Don't Know", became a mantra, a prayer, a scream........

"Don't Know", does not begin to prepare you for the sight of your beautiful child hooked up to machines........

"Don't Know" is cold comfort in a pediatric ICU......

But sometimes.......

Sometimes, "Don't Know" is all we have to hang onto to...........


While the rest of the world goes on around you......


and you're caught in the limbo of: "Don't know".....


You still manage to revel in the small things......

The smell of the apple shampoo, and the feel of the terrycloth towel, as the nurse and I washed my baby's hair on the third day.......

the feel of her silky, sweet hair, between my fingertips, as I brushed her hair out into a fan on the pillow......

My little "Sleeping Beauty"...........

and somewhere along the way.....

"Please", joins "Don't Know", in your prayers, and the cries at 2 Am, when no one else can see...............

"Please" joins endless talk, and rounds of song.........


"Please" , follows you around the corridors of the hospital, corridors that you hate...... but have somehow memorized.......

It follows you onto the elevators.........

Where you try not to make eye contact with all the happy people going upstairs to look at the new babies.....

It follows you into the cafeteria.........

and sits with you at the table.........

staring at a plateful of food that you won't eat..........

"Please", holds you prisoner with it's promise of hope......

you want to turn your back on "Please", the day you see the feeding tube come in.........


When you're brought to your knees, by a small piece of rubber.......

When the dam breaks, and you're not just crying.... you're screaming in a stranger's arms.......

You want to walk away from "Please"..........

forever...........

But you can't.......

Because "Please", is what you're stuck with.......

"Please" is the only thing keeping it all together......


keeping hope alive.....

not just for yourself, but more importantly for your daughter........

and so you get off your knees.......

and introduce "Please" to "Defiance".......


You're reminded of the first time your baby girl came home in tears.......

You thought you knew the meaning of "True Helplessness".........

As you wanted to go beat up someone else's 5 year old......

Turns out.......

You didn't know a thing.....

and now the bully was back....

only instead of taking the shape of a 5 year old, in desperate need of a lesson in sharing......

This bully had chosen the more formidable form of "Brain Injury".........

If you're watching a bad "Lifetime" movie, "Brain Injury" makes for a semi - entertaining couple of hours.......

It gets you away from the laundry and dishes you don't want to do, anyway.......

The heroine/hero suddenly sits up and asks for a cheeseburger...... you get the happy ending...... and you go back to the laundry........

In real life "Brain Injury" is a bitch.........

You want to grab her, and pull her hair out by the roots....


The slowness with which she moves makes you want to scream until you're hoarse.......

Makes you long for the days of the 3 year old, who insists upon putting on her own shoes......

even though you're 10 minutes late to the pediatrician's office........

and your one year old wants to be naked......

even though you've explained to him.... ( semi-patiently) no less than 5 times........

that if his sister ever manages to get the shoe anywhere near the general vicinity of her foot.....

that you'll be going OUTSIDE!!!! ( where it's 8 degrees..... and clothes aren't just a fashion suggestion.... they're a necessity......)

and you think that you know it all.....

watching your 3 year old with the shoe.......

THIS is as slow as time can possibly move.......

Think again......

you know NOTHING......

sit down with "Brain Injury" for awhile......


remember slammed doors, and all the times you forced her to eat her vegetables, even though she assured you it may kill her........

for that, you were willing to take your chances......

"Bargaining" is now holding your hand..........

Your new best friend..........

maybe your only friend..........

You remember the times she screamed: "I hate you"..... and you'd think to yourself.......

"I'm not that fond of you either right now, kiddo".......

You'd give up the rest of your life just to hear one more, "I hate You".............


You remember a scene in Wal Mart ( of all places)
just a couple of months before.....

When your precious 16 year old wasn't getting her own way......

I don't care what anyone says.......

There is nothing uglier than a 16 year old girl not getting her way......

and you question your views on birth control, as your little princess informs not only you, but everyone else standing around in "House wares", that she has gone and had her belly button pierced.......

and there's: "Nothing you can do about it....... so there".......

yeah......

The stretch marks, and morning sickness????

so totally NOT worth it in that moment........

But "Bargaining", forces your hand.........

and you find yourself promising your daughter that she can have anything she wants pierced.........

you'll take her yourself.......

you'll get something pierced yourself....

if she'll only open her eyes.........

Give you just one more chance to be the better mother you know you can be........

"Brain Injury" moves in stages...........

You're given glimpses of this thing called "Hope".....

Glimpses, as your daughter begins answering you....

she might have an entire conversation one day....

Here's the other thing about a 16 year old girl........

No coma in the world is strong enough to keep them away from their first love..... the phone.......

my Heather came back slowly.............

she re-learned her "Baby Steps"............

re-learned how to brush her teeth........

and comb her hair.......

all with her eyes shut..........

I learned that you find hero's in the most unexpected places......

In a nurses touch........

In a Doctor's grin.....

and in your 16 year old as she walks down the hallway...... with her eyes still shut............

Our children are entrusted to us, for just a short amount of time.......

and in that time.....

we're supposed to teach them something about the world........

I'm not sure of the things I taught Heather........

( besides Wal Mart is NOT a good place to break bad news to mommy...)

But I know she taught me patience in those weeks.......

she taught me that anything worth having.....

is worth fighting like hell for........

Was I too selfish for wanting to gaze into those bright blue eyes again???

Maybe........

But thanks to the weeks spent with: "Don't Know", "Please", "Defiance", "Brain Injury", "Bargaining", and "Hope"............

I felt a little entitled.........

and than "Miracle" walked in the door........

It came in on a rainy, cold, evening.......

as the nurse and I were sitting Heather up to transfer her to a chair........

I was talking to Heather, saying: "Heather, It's Mama.... we're going to sit you in the chair for your supper... You're GOING TO EAT YOUR SUPPER"!!!

I was being very forceful.... because I really wanted her to eat... so we could get rid of the feeding tube......

Ironically......

I wasn't thinking of her opening her eyes.......

and that's when "Miracle" took us in it's arms............

Heather opened her eyes.........

The air left the room, and something grabbed me between my stomach and heart.......

It may have been "Belief"..........

because as my daughter and I looked into each other's faces for the first time in weeks...........

we shared a moment more profound, stronger even,
than the one we'd shared on the evening of her birth...

Heather was being born to me again in that moment.....

and as she looked at me, recognition lighting up her face........

it was as if she'd only been having a nap......

as she simply said: "Hi, Mama"............

there was only one thing I could say around the tears....

"Hi, baby...... Welcome Back"............

Today, Heather is a healthy, happy, 22 year old......

who doesn't like naps......

To be continued.....

because, that, is what life is all about......


Janine
"That which does not kill me,
had better run pretty damn fast".
~Author Unknown~

6 comments:

Fragrant Liar said...

I just can hardly tell you how swept away I was in your story. I'm so relieved to read the happy ending -- or should I say beginning? Her story is gripping, and you told it so well from a worried mother's perspective.

Whew. As I said, I'm relieved.

boxcar dreamin' said...

Wow...I am blown away.
I have a neighbor with a child who's confined to a wheelchair and can't speak or feed himself...totally helpless.
I have two grown, healthy kids, but, as a father, I can somewhat relate to your struggle, but, only in the most abstract sense, because every parent fears the worst when it comes to their children, whereas you've lived the hell that every parent fears.
My heart is with you.

Midlife Mama said...

Wonderful, wonderful story. You've had some heartbreak in your life. I work for a nonprofit organization that provides services for adults with developmental disabilities and some of those are TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) from when they were children that they never recovered from, so I'm sure you are very aware at how very lucky you are. I'm sorry about your stillborn little boy, and at 24 years old what a tough thing to face. :)

I'm so glad you found me, and subsequently I found you. :)

Shawn said...

Tears are running down my cheeks! What a beautiful story with a even more beautiful ending! I am filled with fear as my oldest will be driving before I know it!

Housewife Savant said...

Wow. I am moved by this post.
And I am SO following you!

Sheri Carpetenter said...

Happy Saturday Sharefest. I am going to follow your blog. I just love it!!
Sheri
http://sherisstory.blogspot.com

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