"Meghan, wake up." I jumped out of bed, thinking I was late for school until I saw that the clock read 3:02 a.m.
"Get dressed. I need you to go stand by the door. An ambulance will be here soon. Flag them down, and send them up to our room," my father instructed.
"What happened?" I asked.
Even as a sixth-grader, I knew a fall shouldn't require an ambulance, but I got dressed and went to the front door. A few minutes later, an ambulance and police car arrived. I directed them up to my parents' room; the cop told me to take the dog upstairs to my room and for both of us to stay there.
I sat in my room with my door open just a crack so I could peek out, and petted my whining dog for a good 20 minutes. Then I saw my mother lying helplessly on the stretcher as they took her to the ambulance. Unfortunately, I heard what the policemen said, too: "It must be so hard for the girl. Hopefully her mother will survive." Horrified, I closed my door. I made it to my bed before going limp.
A few minutes later we were off to the hospital. Walking through the emergency room, they stopped my dad to do paperwork, so I saw Mom first. Knowing she couldn't talk made me want to shake every person in that room until they knew what it felt like to see their mother that way.
My dad walked in with the doctor explaining what had happened. "We believe she had a stroke," he began. "We know she will live, but we don't know how severe the brain damage is. It's like lights in a stadium turning on, it's going to take time." Then the doctor was paged, and he left.
Seeing my father sitting there holding my mom's hand, I realized the strength of our family. When he looked at me, I could see his tears. He looked as if he were going to collapse on the ground and cry. I leaned over and hugged him, long and tight. As he pulled away, I saw a tear fall. He left the room telling me he was going to call my sister and brother to tell them what had happened. My first time seeing any man cry, and it had to be my father.
Then doctors came in and told me there was room for my mom at the ICU, so we followed them like dogs follow their owners. Seeing my mother moved was like watching a vegetable being taken from the pile in the grocery store and put in a bag. She lay so still, with no expression.
In her new room, my father and I began to talk about how things might never be the same. Then I saw a miracle - Mom's toes moved! A few hours later, her other foot moved, and after four days she was able to say some words.
I lived in the hospital, day in and day out. It was two weeks before my mom was able to leave. The only permanent problem she has is her handwriting, which has become tiny.
Every time I drive by that hospital, I remember going into those boxes they called rooms and seeing my mother looking like a vegetable, seeing the doctors who told us that time was key.
I wish I could find that doctor who took care of my mother.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.