The last time I ever spoke to my Mama was in the holding area just outside the OR of the hospital that used to live down the street from where I live now. We were surrounded by her surgical team. She was prepped and ready to go. And I held her shoes. Time seemed to go in slow motion and–as much as I wanted to say everything to her–I ended up saying nothing–just smiling and taking it all in–my eyes all too wide. And in a moment, she disappeared behind some door–and out of my life forever.
On Sunday afternoon, I found myself sitting in an uncomfortable hospital bed, hopped up on dilaudid, with a weird net over my hair–surrounded by doctors–just outside the OR where they were going to take out my gall bladder. Like all those years before, the anesthesiologist squeezed his patient’s hand and went over all the risks. An excited, nervous energy filled the hall. And I looked up at my concerned roommate who had that same smile plastered on his face–and said goodbye. Or maybe it was see you later. But I made sure to say something. Because this was not going to be the end of me.
And then, in a whirlwind, I found myself in the OR, my anesthesiologist tapped my shoulder, and the world paused for a second. A short time later, I was back in the hallway–near the nurses’ station, comfortable and warm–with people telling me to wake up.
And then, I started talking. And they laughed. Told me how charming I was. And I was reminded of my Mama.
An hour later, I was in my room with a view of the mountains–eating an orange Popsicle and wondering how the Hell the last 2 days happened.
Throughout the years, one of the things I wondered about her death was if she was scared that day. I’ve wondered if she knew what was happening–if my smiling and saying nothing hurt her. I’ve beat myself up over it–only because I was convinced I failed her. That I should have been more there…more present. And I knew I’d have been terrified.
But the surgery this past Sunday changed that. I wasn’t scared. Not even remotely. I understood what was happening. I understood the risks. I knew it was serious. But I had also been really sick, and I was tired of hurting. And I was surrounded by people who were going to help me–who were excited to help me continue on in this journey. And all I could do was trust them and love them and let the Universe decide my fate. And it didn’t matter what was said–just that…no matter what…I mattered. I was loved. It was enough.
I knew I’d wake up. And I knew–even if there was some awful thing ahead–I’d make it to where I should be.
And that’s when I knew, in the most vulnerable part of my heart, that she knew. That she had been okay. That I had done enough. And that what happened was okay–was where she should end up. And that I–despite all my intellectual knowing–did everything I needed to. That it wasn’t my fault, and I can stop blaming myself. And I can stop wondering if she was hurting. Because she wasn’t. She was okay. So wonderfully human and loved. And I didn’t have to save her. She already was.