“I will not let you die”. This is what my inner voice said to me this morning, sweating like an ox in hot yoga. I was holding the tree pose facing the mirrored wall noticing how curly my hair was in full body sweat when I heard the words. It isn’t important for me to state why (or how) I was dying. I knew and so immediately understood the significance of the declaration. So real the personal battle I didn’t even try to divert my thoughts to alternate queries like “who of my clients need I be strong for today?” I knew I was speaking with intention, directly to myself. As I held the sweating pose I dared eye contact, trusting the instructor’s direction to breathe only my own pace, and found myself appreciative that I looked back and willed breath and life.
I stood beside myself this morning and am glad for it.
Veteran’s Day a long time ago. It was scary. We were home from school because, back then, the honored were honored with a real holiday.
It is funny, in a weird way, how the brain registers such major passage events. I haven’t thought of my mother’s first brain hemorrhage in years and years, and yet this weekend, I realized “oh, Monday is Veteran’s day, that was the day mom fell down on the kitchen floor screaming “my head, my head”. I sometimes query, if or not, when such long ago recall comes into mind, if the deceased isn’t wandering back through “my side of the universe”. Just in case my query is accurate, I try to always appreciate the individual in recall and say “thank you” to them.
We were just kids playing on a day off from school when mom abruptly jumped up from her sewing machine screaming, holding her head in her hands as if she could somehow contain the cerebral explosion. While I can’t recall if all of us were at home that day, my memory sees my brother kneeling down on the floor with mom and him yelling at Phyllis and me to run to the neighbors for help. We did run to Francis’s house. She wasn’t home, or if so she was too drunk to open the door. We ran to the next house, no one there, another house, no one. We reached the house on the corner which designated the upward economic shift in the small community. We had never been to that house before and only briefly wondered if we should go before our childhood panic swiftly dismissed protocol. How wonderful when a lady, opening her door to two breathless, terror filled girls, babbling about their mommy screaming and hurt on the floor, confidently rendered assistance. It wasn’t long then that the ambulance arrived down the street where my mother’s brain was bleeding.
I think we were kept from going back into the house from the time we began our desperate door knocking and when they lifted the gurney on which my mother was strapped into the ambulance. The man who shut the door to the ambulance patted me on the head and said something like, “she will be okay little girl.” I savored his hand on my head transmitting some current of comfort, unknown, unexplained, yet confident. That was very nice of him. I remember that part as clear as seeing mom on the floor and the woman opening her door.
This time around, with so many years having passed, in my queried appreciation of those who have “gone on” and might be floating back by, I should say “thank you” not only to my mom for her lingering memories, but to the ambulance attendant and to the neighbor woman who called him. Their kindnesses were indeed heroic to a young child lost in the terror of her mother’s personal warfare that day.