Thursday, July 14, 2011

One second more

To say my mother is my hero sounds a little cliche. I mean who does not look up to and respect their mothers?

Mothers have hard jobs raising their kids, and my mom, like so many these days, was a single mom. That is not to say she raised us alone, oh far from it. We lived with my grandparents until I was 12 and my mom remarried, and then we had a nice normal home with a mom and dad. Well maybe normal is not the right word for it, but it was...well it was what it was.

This though is not why my mom is my hero. She did an amazing job raising me and my siblings, she struggled hard to make sure we had what we needed and most of the time what we wanted. In the end we all turned out to be responsible, well adjusted (no matter how much the rest of the family disagrees), happy individuals. Good job mom.

What you have to understand about my mom is this; she is sick.
My mother is a very ill woman. She was diagnosed with Lupus when I was about 10. After that it has just been a downhill slide. Her list of diseases is so long that I can't remember them all. It seems that almost every year her doctors tack on a new condition to her list. She has multiple auto immune diseases, a slew of neurological problems, and pretty much every system in her body has been rebelling over the last twenty years. (Every system but her heart, which her cardiologist says is the heart of a 40 year old triathlete not that of a 54 year old pack a day smoker with as many medical problems as my mother has. Hooray for one good thing)

She is also in pain. When I say pain I mean pain. We are talking make large men cry sort of pain. If you have ever been asked by a doctor to rate your pain you know they have a chart that goes 1-10, describing one as not really in pain, to 10 which is unable to function from pain. A good day for mom would be a 7 and a normal day would be an 8 to 9. She lived like this everyday for years. Years!

Finally one day she gave in and went to a pain doctor and they put her on methadone for the pain. Now her average day is around a 4. That is still more pain than normal people deal with ever, let alone every day of their lives.

Also, methadone is not exactly a peach of a fix. It does all sorts of crazy things to your body that are less than spectacular. This is not some drug party she is going through. This is finding a way to maintain some semblance of quality of life.

Here recently my mom reconnected with a cousin that she had not seen in probably 15 years. They used to be very close, but life happens and they lost each other through marriages and divorces and moves. You know, life.

As they sat across from one another at the kitchen table, telling each other about where life had taken them, my cousin was left to look at my mother in awe. She told my mom how she was not sure she would be able to do it. She didn't think she could live day in and day out with the pain, with the diseases, with the medications, with the side effects, with all of it; it just seemed so incredibly overwhelming.

And my mother said "Sure you could."

My mother told her if you have to, you can. If you have to do something, all you have to do is do it.
Just take it one second at a time.

When you think you are at your limit you say, just one more second, that is all I need, one more second. And that second passes. Then five seconds have passed and you think that if you can make it five seconds, you can make it ten. Ten seconds turns into thirty seconds, and the next thing you know it has been a minute. You tell yourself, if you can make it one minute, you can make it five. Soon five minutes has become ten, and ten minutes has become an hour. Hours start to build on themselves, and suddenly it has been a day. You made it a whole day. If you can make it one day why not two? Why not a week? A month? A year?
Why not?
And you do it.
Every day.
Because you have to.
One second at a time.

And that is why my mom is my hero.
I never look at my mother and see a sick woman. I never see a woman in pain. I never see a woman struggling to make it one more second. I know she is all of those things, but it is not what I see.

I see the strongest person I know. I see a survivor. I see a woman who is alive and living as best as she is able to. I see a woman who will never give up.
I see a woman who will always have one second more...
Not because she has to, but because she wants to.

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