It was a cold December night with record lows of below freezing temps in a sleepy little town in the South. The coldest it had been in around 51 years according to one news source!
I remember being jolted awake from a dead state of slumber. “Wake up. We have to take your Moma to the hospital. Hurry up and get dressed,” Dad directed.
Startled, I sat up on the edge of the bed. “What’s wrong?” I asked groggily, trying desperately to arouse myself from sleep.
“”It’s time,” Daddy replied.
With the sobering news, I jumped out of bed and dressed in record time. I vaguely remember cradling an electric blanket around my Moma in the backseat of our cream Galaxy 500 car.
Growing up, we had no phone in our home. Very few we knew had one.
She was so weak, she had to lean on my 90 pound frame, weighing around the same as I did at the time. Her moans were full of pain.
I didn’t know what to do, but hold her, not having any words. She didn’t seem to be conscious of anyone around her, only the excruciating pain.
Daddy had to be careful on the slick roads, especially with those brakes that could literally throw you through the windshield in a heartbeat! It was freezing outside and inside the car. My teeth were chattering. I don’t even think the heater had enough time to warm up on the trek to the nearest hospital 15 minutes away.
Stark trees outlined the walkway at the front of the ER. The hospital entrance and front wing were under construction, forcing us to walk down a very long, arctic cold hallway—more like a long handicap ramp. It seemed like an eternity before we walked to the end of that planked, unfinished maze, while Daddy carried Moma, still wrapped in the light-blue blanket.
I never felt so helpless and useless in all my life as we waited in the ER. The hospital workers took my Moma to a private room not too long after that. We spent a miserable and uncomfortable rest of the night there with Moma in a coma. The nurses reassured my brother and I that we were troopers through it all, but the truth is, we were scared out of our wits!
We would lose Moma this time. She had already given us a scare only two weeks before, and we knew she couldn’t last much longer in her weakened condition. Yet she had still held on.
We had said our goodbyes then. I had told her I loved her, and she had told me she loved me. Soon after that, I had prayed an unselfish prayer one night in my bedroom, “Lord please take my Moma home, so she don’t have to suffer anymore.” It took all the strength I had within me to voice those simple words. And then cry till it seemed I had no tears or soul left.
I had just turned fifteen not fifteen days before. I was young. Too young. And I was so scared to be alone, without my Moma. I did not want to see her go.
I look back now, and I can see she was holding out for the two children she had not seen yet—My oldest brother who lived in Florida and my middle sister who lived in Texas at the time. Everyone else had already said their goodbyes. Oh the love a mother has for her child! It’s stronger than any bond on earth I believe.
Moma had never felt that we kids needed to be shielded from death. I had attended more funerals growing up than I could shake a stick at. Honestly, I am grateful she raised us to be tough. To be strong. I think that has helped me hang on and live for God all these years. And be strong enough to face other difficulties of life.
I never knew a barely turned 15 year-old girl could feel like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders that night.. But I did. And that world was about to crumble and be turned upside down forever.
To be continued…