Here I sit, at three in the morning and three days away from my mom’s open heart surgery. My everything hurts.  But I am not even sure if I feel it.  I just know it should hurt as I watch a big fat needle of fear punching into my novacained soul. I wince and squint and I almost feel it, but then I don’t.  But from time to time the drug that is busyness and overwhelmed-ness and maybe even a touch of avoidance wears off, and the pain is too much.  It’s too big. And I’m grasping, begging — keep it away, keep it fuzzy and bloated and numb, just keep it at bay.  There is so much anxious in me right now: about the health of my family, our future, what it will be like to see my mom, MY MOM, in pain, on a ventilator…her life depending on machines.

I’m immediately my seven-year-old self again, kneeling at my bedside, feeling so far from the hospital where my mom is, “God, let my mom be okay.”  I’m immediately my seventeen-year-old self again, watching the ambulance lights leave our driveway, “God, let my mom be okay.”  I’m immediately a child, and the most fearful one at that.

I know it is all good, right? It’s Mayo Clinic for goodness sake, and her sixth one, and she has an incredible surgeon and an even more incredible God.  But PLEASE AND HEAVEN HELP ME if I don’t fight off the whole surgical team telling them to keep their scalpels and saws and blue scrubby selves away from my mom.  Leave her be.  I had soup and salad with her for lunch today, SHE IS JUST FINE: eating, playing with the grandkiddos.  She doesn’t need your medical wonders.  We need her.  We need her here and present and ours. Did you hear that? WE NEED HER.

I think the hardest moments in life are the ones you cannot put off but you are not ready to confront. I’ve wanted to be filled to the brim heading into this week, overflowing with comfort for my mom and others, dry soup mixes, freezer meals, hope, happiness, and a basket full of hospital goodies.  And here I sit in my sinus infection feeling like I have nothing to give.  How do I endure a week like this without having my soul refreshed and ready for the difficult days ahead? How do I refresh my soul when I am trying to avoid the fears and anxiety that I know are waiting for me there, in the dusty corners I don’t visit often?

There is one thing I want to be clear about: I cannot lose my mom.  I CAN NOT.  It will be bad enough and hard enough and strange enough to see her weak and dissolved following surgery, I cannot even deal with the fact that this would be the best possible outcome.  I don’t know how to prepare for it.  How to set my mind on her struggling to breathe or talk, intubated and in pain.  God, help me serve her and comfort her.

Mom, I simply cannot lose you.  I rely on you.  No one gets me like you do.  You have helped shape me into the woman I am today and I want you to continue shaping me into the woman I will be in my future.  You help me be a better mom and I can only wish to someday be as good of a mom as you are.  You are the worst road trip companion (we never get anywhere) and the best coffee date.  You are deep and wise and intuitive and you truly do want to see the best future for those you love.  I am so glad that I get to do life with you … let’s continue that, ok?  XO, Hil

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