“That Must Be Hard”

Recently I was asked how my mom is doing. It’s always a really hard question to answer because I don’t really have an answer other than “she’s still truckin!”, or something lame like that. All so I can avoid the conversation altogether because it’s torturous. 

So how is she? 

Which mom….

I have been fortunate to complete graduate school and learn how to accept my new mother and mourn the loss of the mom I used to have. Answering this question honestly kills me inside every time I have to speak about (thus validating) this loss. And every time I get the same response “that must be hard”. 

Let’s talk about hard. This is what has been really really hard-Difficult, borderline impossible and soul crushing all at the same time. 

My mom has completely changed after seven surgeries. She now struggles using a smartphone. We used to text and talk on the phone all day. She knew everything about my life, she was my best friend. If I had a question about anything at all my mom was the first person I knew I could go to.

 But now her texts are mostly a jumble of letters, intended to communicate a message that I can barely understand. She sometimes sends them more than once, maybe three or four times. Or more. When she calls and I don’t answer, I find missed call after call until she’s calling while I’m checking my phone. When I return her call it’s for nothing, or she doesn’t remember why. And her voice is not hers anymore. Each surgery and breathing tube took it from her, little by little. What was once something I took for granted is gone. I hear her raspy, slurred language when she calls and it’s a constant reminder that she’s different. She’s not the same anymore. 

There was one day when her voice came back-just for a day though. I was so happy I was yelling to her “MOM! YOUR VOICE CAME BACK!” 

She hadn’t even realized it changed. But I did. And still do.