By Matt Hose
Memory is a funny thing.
I remember that it was after Hurricane Katrina. My mother, my brother and I had previously evacuated for four months to Sacramento, Calif. to live with my aunt and uncle.
I remember that we had moved back into my house in the outskirts of New Orleans.
I remember my grandmother having to fly in from South Carolina to live with my family for a month. Every day when I would come home from school, I could smell her traditional Southern cooking coming from the kitchen. Most of my mom’s recipes came originally from my grandmother, so the smells helped me to think that nothing was different. It helped me to think that my mom was there.
I remember trips to the hospital with my dad. At times, even after a couple of days without seeing her, I would almost start to forget my mom’s voice. But, every time that I walked through the door to her white hospital room, I would immediately be reminded when she greeted me with a “Hi sweetie,” with her unimposing twang of a southern accent. She smiled her usual glowing smile and seemed to be doing good despite the needles running through her veins. She was sprightly enough for conversation. I just knew that she would be back home soon.
I remember never having a doubt in my mind that she would pull through this. In fact, the idea that she might not pull through it never even occurred to my mind. She was my mom, she was always there and she always would be, right?
I remember that the month went by quickly. I kept going to my classes, my grandma kept cooking me dinner in my mother’s place, and my dad and I drove back and forth to the hospital some evenings after school. Some days it probably didn’t even seem important to me to go visit her. She was probably having fun playing her favorite card game, Solitaire, or talking to the doctors. I was naive.
I remember that at the end of that quick month, she came back home and life returned relatively back to normal, though it never seemed much different to begin with.
While I remember a lot of things about this time of my life, there are just as many things I do not remember. Those things are probably even more important than the ones I do remember, and I have found them out as I have grown older.
I don’t remember that every time I went into that hospital, my mother was skinnier. She had alway been relatively small, never weighing more than 130 pounds. The change was gradual, but by the end of the month, she was 90 pounds and could not stomach a full meal. She smiled at me as I entered the hospital and likely mustered up all of the energy she had to talk to me, but she was skin and bones underneath the cover of her blanket.
I also don’t remember what else the blanket concealed. Veins pulsated through her arms as the doctors had to constantly give her injections of potassium. The potassium burned her veins so much that several of them painfully blew out, and the doctors often had to try four or five different veins before they found one that worked.
I don’t remember that when I left the hospital, that smile disappeared and gave way to tears. I didn’t know that at times she felt completely hopeless and alone, and that the idea of my grandmother coming in to replace her was probably very terrifying.
I don’t remember that she went into cardiac arrest twice during her stay in the hospital.
I don’t remember that her doctor told her following one of these episodes, “We are not going to lose you.”
I don’t remember that at any moment, I could have lost my mother forever, and that my childhood naivete would be shattered.
There are a lot of things that I don’t remember, and what I realize now is that that is what makes mothers great.
Mothers are there to allow us, as their children, to think that they aren’t human. They allow us to think that they are servants on Earth to serve our every desire. They allow us to forget that they are human beings with beating hearts. Human beings that cry in hospital beds. Human beings whose hearts sometimes decide to stop beating. Human beings who may be hopeless behind that smile that they put on for their kids.
This Mother’s Day, I implore everyone to remind their mothers that we all know they are human. We know all what they have sacrificed for us, and we love them for it.