“The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.” - Fernando Pessoa
Even when we become adults who are able to take care of ourselves and have our own family, there is still a part in most of us who wants to make our parents proud. We still smile and feel relief at the words “well done” or “I’m proud of you”. And for those of us who have had children; the first time we hand our own child to our parent - is there any sweeter, more heart-swelling moment than when you look into their eyes and see tears of love, wonder, and gratitude?
There are also times when we need our parent. The times when we’re scared, unsure, nervous, or conflicted is the time to gather our family around us for strength. But there’s that pull in our heart that just wants to feel our parent’s arms around us, their hand over ours, and their voice in our ear telling us it’s all going to be ok.
I very recently had a surgery that I’ve had before and, because I’d had it before, I was nervous, scared, disappointed, and angry that my body wasn’t doing what I thought it should. I had given it a chance and it had betrayed me again. The first time, 4 years ago, I told my mom what was going on and she seemed detached, which I told myself was probably just her being nervous and not quite understanding what was going to happen. I knew that she had a deep fear of losing me since I was the closest person to her and the one who would take care of her if need be. That could be the reason she didn’t really want to acknowledge it. Perhaps it was easier for her to distance herself from my mortality and not talk about it. Not exactly what I wanted but I tried to understand.
This time, I told myself that there was no use in telling her what was going on with me. It would just make her nervous for a few minutes and then she would forget. No use putting her, or me, through that. But, there was a part of me who just needed my mom. I wanted her to hug me and tell me that everything was going to be ok. Squeeze my hand, tuck my hair behind my ear, kiss my forehead. Something.
Whenever I go to visit, her first question after greeting me and kissing me hello is to ask how everyone is doing and how I’m doing. I always respond that everyone is fine and catch her up on any little new stuff that’s going on. I didn’t tell her I was going to have surgery and I wasn’t going to; there was no point in upsetting her just so I could get what I needed for a minute. But, I caved and I told her the week before. She was so sweet about it and so concerned; she even asked if she could come and just hold my hand. This is what I wanted, this is what I needed to hear. I felt bad for telling her but also relieved. I got her in the shower, changed her sheets, gathered up her clothes to wash, and straightened up her room.
And then she stepped out of the shower and asked how everyone was doing, and was I ok. I told her everyone was doing well and so was I.
We just got back from seeing her a little while ago; it’s been 4 days since my surgery. She looked a little shocked and asked what happened to me. I told her as simply as I could so I wouldn’t upset her. She was her sweet self, and thanked us for coming to take care of her. She asked if I was in pain and I told her that I wasn’t, really. She asked if I was going to be better the next time she saw me and I told her that I would be.
Would I tell her if I had to do it over? I’d like to say that I wouldn’t, but I know myself; I’ll always be her daughter and she’ll always be my mom.