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Let’s talk about how I haven’t been able to write on this blog for nearly a year. I’ve been feeling stuck. Every week I would try to write but would be unable to formulate a working sentence. Some weeks I wouldn’t log on at all. And for a second, I thought perhaps my run with blogging had come to an end. Maybe I’d arrived to the finish line.
But then I thought to myself, this couldn’t be the end because I think about it every day. Literally.
So I wrote drafts and then stopped. Wrote drafts that got deleted because I was careless and forgot to save them (which really drove me crazy). Wrote more drafts then stopped. None of the sentences came together. I couldn’t complete a single article. I sought friends for help and asked them for topic ideas. I got lots of great ideas, too! I cried to them about not being able to write and for a second I would feel a breakthrough but of course it didn’t last long.
Let’s rewind to Summer 2015. I was living the life! There I was living in the apartment of my dreams, dating a man whom I absolutely adored, content with the job I had.. and my social life was booming per usual.. then, bam – it all changed. In June, my mom suffered a massive stroke.
My mom’s stroke caused my comfortable world to suddenly become… well, uncomfortable. My life was changing and I did not want it to. It was the weekend Milton and I had planned to go to Hampton to visit my parents. We would take off work and travel down 95 South to take my parents to dinner. My relationship with Milton was rather new and I really wanted him to get the chance to bond with my parents. But it didn’t happen that way.
I got a call from my dad Thursday night that my mom had a stroke. We didn’t know how serious it was. Friday morning came and we heard my mother wasn’t doing well at all. She had been transferred to intensive care.
So I gave Milton the option of splitting up. I would go to Hampton to be with my family and perhaps he could enjoy a free weekend to himself. I waited to see what he would do. I figured he’d take the easy way out with door #2 and make plans to hang out with his boys. I began mentally preparing myself for the lonely 3-hour drive to Hampton alone.
To my surprise, Milton did not back out. An hour later, he showed up to my apartment, carried my bags to his truck and drove me to Virginia.
I was floored. I knew that I already loved Milton but my love for him grew deeper that day.
The next few weeks and months were followed by a series of emotional trips back and forth to Hampton. Twice doctors told my family that we needed to prepare for my mother’s departure. Can you imagine someone telling you to get ready for your mother to die? Like, what?
I mean, come on, I’m only 33. I needed my mother for a heck of a lot more time. I needed to hear her opinion on things. I needed her to see me grab my Master’s degree. I needed her to teach me how to cook more of her special dishes. I needed her to walk down the aisle when I got married. I needed her by my side if I decided to have a child. I needed her for so much more – all the millions of reasons a girl needs her mother.
Life became hard and not fun. My mother was unresponsive for weeks. I was annoyed. Annoyed that I couldn’t live my life how I wanted. Annoyed that my Friday nights were spent traveling to Virginia and not out on date night. Annoyed that my emotions were everywhere and I couldn’t control it.
Fast forward to now. My parents have come back to Maryland so we all could better care for my mom. In August, I moved back home. The transition has been difficult. Gone are the days when I would come home from work only to be greeted by Jackson (my cat). Gone are the days when I would cook odd meals without receiving weird stares from family members. Long gone are the days when I would come home, throw off my work clothes, lay on the couch and listen to the busy yet soothing sounds of rush hour traffic on Rhode Island Avenue.
Those days were replaced with caring for a mother who could no longer do anything for herself. That, itself, was a shock and it made me feel depressed. I was mad that I was inconvenienced with my mother’s constant need of care and also bitter about having to live at home. I missed my sanctuary. But then I felt bad because here I was annoyed yet my mother was the one who was really suffering! The most difficult thing was my mom not being able to speak which still really frustrates her.
In the midst of all the complaining I have done (and I’ve done a lot of complaining), I realized that there is plenty to be thankful for. My mom is now walking! She is doing things on her own, which include feeding and dressing herself. She brushes her own teeth. She has come a long way. And I believe God that she will talk again.
Every week I walk in her room and tell her she’s going to talk again. For months I would tell my mom that she needed to pull it together because I needed her present for the beautiful things in my future. It sounds selfish but I don’t care.
The stroke has done something for my family, too. My siblings and I have a bond that I cannot explain. We were already close but we have grown closer. There’s something about a sibling that differs from a friend. They really know you. They know where you have come from and they understand you in ways that others cannot.
My dad is my hero. Late nights and early mornings he’s spent caring for my mother. Traveling up and down the highways for countless doctor’s appointments. Completely involved in every aspect of my mother’s recovery. The days where I knew he was tired and drained – he never lost hope for her healing and never complained.
A few nights ago, I got home around 9:30 PM. I glanced in my parent’s room and saw them sitting together working on improving my mother’s speech. They were reading words together. My father asked her a series of questions and she answered with yes or no. Those moments that I’m able to witness with just the two of them are so special.
Although, I’m back living in the same room I grew up in, I’m back a different woman. I’m stronger. I’m thankful to God for being a healer, a comforter. I’m thankful for the time I have with my mom – moments that I took for granted before. I’m grateful for those times when it’s just us. When I’m doing her hair. Or when I offer help because I see her struggling trying to do ordinary tasks – the look in her eyes is priceless. She can’t say thank you so instead she embraces me with a hug so deep, it feels like our hearts are touching.
So I choose to be thankful for where I am. I choose to make the best of my time at home. It’s not where I want to be but it’s where I need to be. Because when I do go back out there, I’m going to be fully prepared for everything that lies ahead.