I remember so clearly staring at the white sides of the transport trucks against the backdrop of the white highway median as we drove, just Mom and I, to the children’s hospital that April day.
“Are their going to be needles with this one?” I asked nervously.
“Yes, afraid so,” my mom broke the news to me.
I was twelve, still afraid of needles, but would soon get over it; I would have no choice in that. On this day however, I was dreading having the three or four it would take to get this renal scan done.
I had been recently diagnosed with kidney disease and was still in the midst of undergoing the tests necessary to assess the amount of progression. I had been X-rayed, scanned, poked, and prodded for weeks. It took forever, it felt like, to finally be diagnosed in the first place. Mom fought for me the whole way and never gave up. She knew when something wasn’t quite right with her daughter and she wouldn’t stop and she didn’t, until the doctors found out what it was.
Now she was preparing, that very evening, to leave for a planned trip to Europe, with Dad and my sister and brother, to visit family. Mom and Dad promised next time they would take me and my younger brother. All the plans were made. We were to be looked after and to stay with different family and friends over the weeks of their absence. My new pediatric nephrologist assured my hesitant parents that their newly diagnosed daughter would be fine while they were away.
This particular Friday afternoon I was looking forward to staying with family and friends, but sad that my family were leaving. As I waited on the exam table, the nurse injected the dye into my arm while my mom stood next to me, distracting me with any number of discussion topics she could come up with. I then had to be back three more times, a needle every hour, to test how my kidneys were filtering.
In between these sessions Mom and I killed time at a table in the cafeteria. I sat at our table, a bandaid on my one arm and a thick dark marker in the other hand. I would soon run out of arms for needles or for completing homework.
I stared at the page of math problems again, for the millionth time it seemed. This was a common theme lately. The math problems in front of me were gibberish. My mom tried her best, in that calmest of calm ways she has, but my arm was sore and my mind was racing. I was flustered all the time and math was becoming my worst nightmare. Sixth grade math was kicking my ass.
I was asked recently about my most favourite memory with my mother. This one image remains in my mind, almost twenty years later. I didn’t want her to leave and I was afraid of all the needles and the recent news of my kidney failure. Math had become a struggle and I was lost.
As I sat at that cafeteria table with my dark marker and my black lined paper I forced myself to remember how to do the math problems my sixth grade teacher had assigned. I was close to tears and scared, but she was right there with me. Her calming voice and reassuring tone made me think I would be okay. Nothing could touch me while she was there.
This is a fitting and a perfect metaphor for what my mother means to me and others. She was the thing that got me through math and through kidney disease. She took care of everything and I was never scared when I reminded myself she could make it all bearable.
Mothers have a special role in all our lives. The mother-child relationship can not be replaced. Nobody loves you like your mother loves you. Mine is my rock and my driving force. She grounds me to reality and to the positive of life.
When I was struggling it felt like there was no math problem she couldn’t figure out, no problem, big or small that she couldn’t solve. I have learned everything from her and she is responsible for the woman I am today.