When you & your family live in different states, it can be tough for a number of different reasons. Traveling is expensive & plain old hard to do when you have four kids. When you're older, it doesn't get easier; nothing really does. My mom's recent trips down highlighted this & I had to admit, she is getting older. It's hard for me because she is so far away. I wish I could go and help her do every day tasks & just hang out with her. I want to be closer as she ages so I can care for her because no one loves her like I do.
She's my mom.
Usually, I am okay with the distance. We talk on the phone, through texts and Facebook but this last week, I felt the distance.
I felt the distance between us and it felt like millions of miles, not just a few hundred. I felt fear. I felt panic. I felt a feeling I can't put into words.
A call came into my cell phone just after 5:30 last Thursday night. Phoenix & I were getting ready to head to his first baseball practice of the season at the batting cages. It was my mom. I answered in my usual "Yo. Lady. What is happening?" because I am a jive-ass turkey for the 1970's but more on that later...and I was shocked when a man's voice answered, not my mom's.
It wasn't her husband Tom either. Then I heard the words: "Your mom & my dad have been in an accident. There's no easy way to say it."
It was my brother-in-law Gary, Tom's oldest son. He had just gotten to the hospital where my mom & Tom had been transported by ambulance after surviving a rollover accident on Highway 58 in Oregon. I listened, in shock, as Gary relayed the story to me. Mom had been driving to Mother Bea's house, Tom's mom; Tom had been dozing in the passenger seat when Mom lost control for reasons unknown, crossed into on-coming traffic, hit a guardrail, went over/through it and rolled their Dodge down into a small drainage ditch.
She had sustained non-life threatening injures that included fractured vertebrae and broken ribs. She couldn't remember anything leading up to the accident so I have to assume there is some head trauma too. She was in the ICU and I spoke to her very briefly before hanging up the call.
Then I lost my collective shit.
My mom is all I have left. She isn't perfect. I'm not perfect. We don't always get along or agree but we love each other. We accept each other. We support each other. My mom has always been my rock, has always been the keystone of my life. I would not be who I am today if she had been someone else. And I am not ready to say good-bye or let her go quietly into the night. My legs were jello but all I wanted to do was run. 600 miles isn't that far, is it? I was thinking about how fast I could drive up to her, how many stops would I have to make? I'd sleep in the van; the babies would be okay. I just had to get there.
But I couldn't. For so many reasons. I didn't even know how bad it was or wasn't yet but I felt the panic. The sense of urgency that my mama needed me, that I needed to be with her. I cried, so hard, so long. I was shaking so bad, on the verge of a full-blown panic attack, Jay holding me while I sobbed into his shoulder, when a tiny little hand slipped around my leg and a small body pressed itself against me. It's amazing to me how connected we are to our parents...and I realized Korben could feel my pain the way I was feeling for my mom.
Choking back the sobs, forcing the panic down into its dark little cave, I picked up my boy and held him to me & Jay; I told myself I wouldn't panic until I knew how bad it was. Until someone said "You need to worry.", I wasn't going to allow myself to feel that particular emotion. Instead, I knew needed to focus on Mom and reassuring her. Willing her to heal & just be okay. I couldn't call the hospital, too much anxiety, but my brother called & spoke with her nurses. She had broken ribs, two neck fractures and she was waiting for a neurosurgeon to check her out & decide a course of action e.g a collar & body braces with physical therapy OR surgery. She could move her extremities and there wasn't a worry of paralysis but she was in a lot of pain, of course, and wouldn't be going home any time soon.
Tom, her husband, got released that night with 12 staples in his head and a compression fracture to his sternum. I spoke with him a day or so later but wouldn't get to speak to Mom again for four days, when she was finally checked out and transferred out of the ICU. The neurosurgeon had decided a collar & body brace for 3 months would be enough to let her heal herself. I was relieved surgery wasn't needed and could actually relax. She was in the best possible hands; those belonging to trained nurses & doctors. I've talked to her every day since she was transferred and she sounds more & more like her normal self every day but still has a road to recovery in front of her. She is tired and sore but seems to be in good spirits.
She's started physical therapy at the hospital and will eventually be transferred out to a rehab facility for two weeks before she gets to go home for real. My plan is to go up for a few days when she gets out of rehab to help her out. I've been talking to her regularly now that she is out of ICU and I think it's helping both of us. She sounds more like her usual self every day but the one picture she sent me showed she has a long way to go before she is back to good again. I'll take every baby step to wellness she takes though; happily & gratefully.
Life has almost returned to normal here. Or, as normal as it's ever been, at least. I'm throwing myself into the daily routine wholeheartedly, as a distraction and because we're entering baseball season, a hectic & challenging season with two kids playing and two others too young to be anywhere near interested. I'm beyond thankful that Mom and Tom weren't more seriously hurt.
So, so grateful.
There is so much that could have gone much, much worse. Not knowing how badly she was hurt made for the most anxious days in a long time for me; not being able to talk to her & ask her how she was feeling. It was a very lonely feeling. I am not the best mom when I'm stressed out either and stressed out I was for those first couple days.
Now with the dust settling, I can breathe a bit easier; I know what's going on & what to expect and hopefully, the time for surprises is over. Thank you to everyone who extended thoughts and support this last week. My mom & I both appreciate it greatly.