At this moment, 9 years ago, I was sleeping off the anesthesia from my bowel surgery. I actually don’t know how long I was out, I know it was longer than expected, but I’m not sure about the amount of time. I told my mom a long time ago I didn’t want to know. I’m not sure why, but the combination of being so close to death and knowing my mother had to sit in the waiting room waiting for however many hours is just too much. It’s like one step over the line of comfort. Let’s be honest, as parents, we mull over our mortality and that of our children far too much already. I’m okay with simply knowing I came close but never crossed the finish line.
9 years ago, I was uncertain about the future. It was the first time throughout the whole experience of trying to survive with ulcerative colitis that I saw my mother cry. When I handed her my necklaces, that was it for her. The damn broke. We both squeezed each other and cried. There was no point in hiding the fact that we were both scared and unsure if this would be the last time we would look into each other’s eyes. Looking into my mother’s eyes was a thing for me. The very first time I heard her voice after being alive outside of the womb, I looked straight into her eyes. It’s been our form of communication ever since.
In a second, so many questions passed through me. I wondered what she would do without me. Who would be her little girl? Would she be okay without one of her children? The thought of losing my own child made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t imagine having to wake up the following day without my own child. I felt sorry for her, and I felt guilty. If I left, I would be leaving her without a daughter, a buddy, and without her firstborn. Your firstborn is no better or no worse than your other children. It’s just the child you’ve been with the longest. And she and I started out together just as her life was beginning to take flight. With 22 years between, sometimes she felt like my best friend and then my mother. I have never gone a day without talking to my mom. Even when she was on tour, I still got to speak to her for a few minutes. Who would call her every single day or text her funny anecdotes? How could I leave her like this? Moreover, how could I leave her with my child? Why was this happening? Would I make it through? And if I did, what would it mean for the rest of our lives? I wanted to live and find out.
My mother celebrates this day every year with the same enthusiasm as the day she gave birth to me. She calls it my second birthday. I like that because it describes this event so well. My mom was right; it is my second chance. It was our second chance as a family. A second chance for daily talks and silent communication. A second chance to complete all the moments paused by inflammatory bowel disease. A second chance to live the full life I started off living as a teenager. I lost my colon and gained my life. Nine years later, I am here and waiting on decisions from schools that I’ve applied to. I’m mothering through a pandemic, and my mother can still speak a thousand words to me through her eyes.
I can remember waking up the next day and staring out of my hospital window. I had made it. I had lived to the next day, and there would be more days to come. Happy Anniversary, J-Pouch. We did it, girl!