Here’s something crazy. I starting investing in my health, consciously, at around age 6.
I know. What?
It’s a long story. But, one that I think is an important one to tell and one to know if you want to truly understand where I’m coming from.
I wasn’t old enough to know if she was my world. I don’t remember. I like to think that to my kids, I’m one of the most important people in their lives. We have a connection that I’ve felt in my soul since I was a young girl, and maybe they feel that connection too. But, I don’t know if my mother felt that way about me, but I know that right now, and every day, I wish I knew.
I lost my mother at the age of 5.
It wasn’t from something sudden, or something unforeseen. She died from Leukemia, cancer of the blood. Sometime around my 5th birthday, she and my Dad were seeing doctors for symptoms and she was diagnosed. I’m not sure what her prognosis was or what stage she was diagnosed at, but I knew, after that, seeing my Mom on a regular basis, wasn’t always on a daily basis. She stopped dropping me off at school, and instead, I started taking the school bus. I suppose that was a bit easier for both of us, since after drop offs, I would sit, sometimes for the whole school day, in the reading corner, coming out only for snack time or if one of my friends was able to coax me out to play. My teacher seemingly understood that I needed my time, and never forced me to do otherwise. After school, I would meet up with my sister and we’d take the school bus home together.
After school, on most nights, we would travel to the hospital, a 30-40 minute drive, to visit my Mom. I have memories of sitting on the bed with her, enjoying her hospital food, with my Dad and my siblings, but most of my memories there are of us in a lounge or room while my Mom was in her room – I’m sure at least one of us was with her. When our visit came to an end, we said good night, exchanged kisses and went home.
There were times my Mom would come home for visits. I don’t know how long they were at a time, or how frequently they happened, but I remember feeling the excitement of her coming home. I remember noticing a change in her hair, a change in how her face looked, how she moved, but the take-for-grantedness of your mother that you have as a child, was definitely there.
This was my normal.
One winter evening, we rushed to the hospital. It was a different kind of visit. The tension was palpable and I knew that because I wasn’t allowed in her room. I guess the curiousity or rebelliousness in me took over because I took a peek or maybe even snuck into the room for a few seconds. I saw hospital staff and my Mom in a state I had never seen before and blood. Lots of blood. It didn’t scare me though. It confused me.
Perhaps it was the next day, I was able to go into her room, and I watched her sipping water from a straw. She had this thing on her nose to stop it from bleeding, I assumed, and was saying that it felt like the water was going straight to her nose.
Visits that I remember after that returned to normal, but also included celebrating my Dad’s and Brother’s January birthdays with cake and singing.
One of the next visits I remember though wasn’t really much of a visit. It was more than my Dad and my siblings and me – this time, my cousins and uncles and aunts (her sisters), and my grandparents were there. We played in a room, one I don’t remember being in before, and oh gosh, I don’t remember having a more fun time the hospital. We wrote on the chalkboard, played on the chairs…
Then my Dad walked in, and everything changed.
The next time I saw my Mom, we were praying over her as she began a new journey in her real life, and she became a different presence in mine.