Mother Gayle V. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

September 18, 2009
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When I think about that night, my mind gets muddled as I attempt to bring the thousands of thoughts together. I have memories of anticipating beeps, red and blue lights, nursing homes, and the difference between who she was and who she is today. Everything that happened that night affected my life since.

On November 22, 2003, I was eating peppermint ice cream as my mother walked in our door. I followed her into the bedroom, where she took off her coat and shoes. She seemed to be slurring her words. I exchanged a concerned glance with her boyfriend, who was sitting on the bed. As she entered the kitchen, I rested my arms on the counter and watched her get a bottle of water from the fridge. That's when she fell.

When she collapsed, my heart crumpled with her. Without thinking or knowing what was wrong, I yelled, “Wayne! My mom just fell!”

I remember hearing the ambulance siren and watching the paramedics run through the door. Time was going too fast for me to handle. I had to call my sister, Kirsten. When she answered, I finally let the tears fall. As the paramedics took my mother away, I watched helplessly as my insides shook but my outside stood still.

My mother had a massive stroke that night caused by a hole in her heart, which created a blood clot that flowed to her brain. It was a miracle she survived.

Before Mom had brain surgery to fix the clot, Kirsten and I were ­allowed to see her. I ­remember seeing my mother attached to so many machines that she looked like Frankenstein in mid-creation. I tried hard to be strong and hold back the flood of tears. I stuttered, “Mommy, I'll try to do my best in school. I love you.” Then it was like the Hoover Dam broke into a million little pieces.

Over the next few weeks, my mother recovered from her surgery. Even though it was a hard time, she was doing everything she could to stay strong for everyone. Watching her learn to swallow, sit up, and walk again were the hardest things I've ever endured.

Once she was well enough to leave the hospital, my family brought her to a nursing home. At some of the homes she stayed in during this period, my mother was treated poorly, and at others she was happy and loved talking to the workers and other residents.

When I went to see her in these homes, I would get nauseous and feel hopeless. I saw teenagers, just a few years older than me, paralyzed from car accidents. I would also see the fear of the elderly waiting to die. But talking to these people made the time and the hurt fly by.

Months passed, and a new school was thrown into my pile of worries. No one in my class knew that each day after school I would visit my mother in the nursing home. I even had my twelfth birthday party there. Sometimes I would visit my mother in the hospital because she needed more surgeries. She got a hard plastic mold placed in the right side of her head and the hole in her heart was fixed so she wouldn't have another stroke. During school, I tried my best to keep to myself. I never let my secret out.

With time, the pieces mended and built a stronger and more beautiful new dam. When I think about it now, my mind clogs with racing thoughts because of all the good and bad that came as a result of her stroke. If it had never happened, her left arm would work, she would walk normally, and she'd have a decent memory. But as a result of her stroke, I believe she is now a happier person who doesn't take anything for granted.

My mother's stroke impacted my life too. If it had not occurred, I would not have met and fallen in love with my boyfriend, I wouldn't know any of my best friends, and I wouldn't be as close to my mother as I am. My mother is my hero and my biggest fan. I live by her words of wisdom: “You don't have to actually die to lose your life.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Monika said...
Jul. 21, 2015 at 3:40 am
Absolutely wonderful, I am so impressed.really lovely piece of poetry
notherboyfriend:) said...
Jan. 6, 2010 at 1:07 am
BOO!!! I want the unedited version back! these teen ink editors don't know what they're doing. its like they're trying to strip the creativity from writing before it's published cause they're jealous of the teens who write better than them.
writeitloud This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 6, 2010 at 4:45 pm
I agree. I mean, I'm happy it got published. But I was so upset they took out all my original phrases and such. It feels like I'm a model being told my thighs are too fat or my nose needs some touching up. Hmmm..
xxferalheartxx said...
Oct. 17, 2009 at 11:14 pm
really insightful. i couldn't imagine having to go through all of that.
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