That Early April Morning

March 1, 2012
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We all dislike our mothers at times. They seem to take every possible opportunity to ruin our lives and serve as a constant pain in our necks. I, too, disliked my mother. We had a rocky relationship that consisted of plenty of yelling and slamming doors and insensitive apologies. It was not until last year that I realized that our relationship had to change. Because nothing lasts forever, we need to learn to appreciate everything we have while it is still with us. I learned this lesson the hard way.
I was rolling my eyes with my back to my mother when it happened. It was a Sunday morning early last April, and my half-asleep ears were being assaulted by her endless ramblings. I had to clean my entire room, reorganize my backpack and folders, practice the piano and saxophone for an eternity and a half, walk the dogs, and be in bed by nine thirty. Of course, I would never be able to accomplish the day’s work, and she made a point to reiterate that.

She was in the middle of telling me another task that needed to be completed when a garbled cry that would force banshees to cover their ears erupted out of her throat. I whirled around to watch her eyes flick to the back of her head and her arms flail in front of her as if she were cowering from a great beast. She shuddered once before crumpling onto the kitchen floor with a thump. Apparently I was screaming, because my father scrambled in from the other side of the house and called for an ambulance.
“My wife’s having a seizure!” he cried. My mother trembled as if electricity was running through her. Her face contorted for several moments before her jaw locked into place and her lips sealed shut. Her face was turning purple and out of her blueberry lips slithered a trail of puffy white foam that trickled down her chin and pooled in the crook of her now violet neck. She was not breathing. Phone still pressed to his ear, my father dropped to the floor and pushed her onto her side. She went silent. After several agonizing moments, throaty breaths began to emerge from her and I let out a tiny sigh of relief. My father had saved her from choking on her own tongue. We did not know the state she was in, but we knew she was alive. That was all we needed for the time being.

Several minutes passed and three men whom I had never seen before entered my house with a stretcher in tow. They performed some preliminary tests to ensure that she was safe for movement, and without saying a word to me they brought her out of the house, stuffed her in an ambulance, and drove off, leaving me scarred and uncertain of her fate. Was she okay? Did she suffer any permanent brain damage? Could this have been prevented? I will never forget the sight of that ambulance driving up my dusty street and vanishing around a corner, leaving me in a painful darkness.

My mother was okay. Her epilepsy, which had remained dormant for seventeen years, had shown itself again in a grand mal seizure, one of the most severe forms. As she was wheeled in to the emergency room lobby many hours later, I knew that the experience had changed the both of us for the better.

Looking back on it now, I can see just how much the seizure did change us. We still argue at times, but there is a new appreciation between us. There is something about watching your mother’s life slip through your fingers that can change your views about her. She is not a witch out to ruin my life at every corner. She is not a shadow lurking behind me and waiting to watch me fall. She is not a demon trying to corrupt my mind and bring me pain. She is a human being that loves me and supports me. As I saw her fall on that fateful April day, I knew I could not stand to lose her. I would not be able to function. I needed my mother, I still do, and I always will.

My mother was changed, too. She has apologized several times since the episode for scaring me as much as she did. She diffuses our arguments a lot now, instead of returning the relentlessness I throw at her. She says life is too short to argue over trivial matters such as cleaning rooms, practicing music, or walking dogs. I agree. Now that she is on high doses of various medications, she is forced to take on yet another responsibility in being my mother. “My priorities changed after that seizure,” she said. “I have to take my medicine now. I need to be responsible. I don’t want to scare you again, and I don’t want to leave you.”

Like my mother, my priorities changed. I had always taken my family for granted. I feel guilty now, knowing that I needed her seizure to serve as a wake up call. I love my family, and even if they still irritate me to no end at times, I know that a downright annoying family is far better than the alternative of having no family. Whether we like them or not, we need our families.

We all dislike our mothers at times. We fight with them, disagree with them, and take them for granted. But if we understand the harsh fear of losing them and that nothing can last forever, we might be able to better appreciate them while they are still in our lives.





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