Isn’t it something that most tragic things in life…the ones that cut you to the bone…often start with the ring of a phone? The delivery of life changing news streams through an invisible signal…fixed and winding over and through the atmosphere. Unseen. Secret power pinging off distant towers, cutting through matter, knowing no bounds until it pins down its destiny.
Faster than a speeding bullet.
I’ve seen it on television. In movies. Heard about it in the lives of others. Held my breath (like most of you) and thanked heaven that I had lived so far dodging that dreaded bullet. Only so far. Until one day…one fateful and now gone day…just a few short months ago.
The frequency of all frequencies with the power to bring me to my knees sped through the universe, and lasered its way to my assigned number. It was now my turn. Inside my purse, I heard the ring. I felt the vibration. The transmission was made.
I received The Call.
On the sending end was one of my most treasured possessions calling to tell me that another priceless, beautiful treasure in my chest of children was in trouble. My oldest, living almost a thousand miles away…was transported to a hospital.
And mom! It’s not good. Not good at all.
Through tears my daughter tried to relay what she knew. I remember the sound of her words in my ear, I remember feeling such helplessness at the sound of her sobs (somewhere over there — on the other side of the signal — where I could not put my arms around her and comfort her), but I could not make it register.
There will be a day when I can tell you more detail…but for now, I will tell you that my son (one of the greatest loves of my life) had often been in the hospital these past several years. Injuries to his body from the strain of military life. Surgeries and wounds of a soldier kept him sometimes in and out of doctors offices, wound care facilities, urgent cares…emergency rooms. Maybe, just maybe, this time was like one of those…maybe it would all turn out and I would be able to tap the speed dial that would send the signal those thousand miles and hear the vibration of his voice…telling me not to worry. Mom, don’t worry. (Pausing here to cry some…because I can hear his voice so vividly in my head as I type these words. As audible as reality.)
But I couldn’t reach him. He didn’t answer my call.
There are so many words to type about what happened next. Paragraphs and pages and pages of blogs to tell you all that happened. And I will do that. I will.
But for now all I see is myself on an airplane. Traveling those almost thousand miles. Fixed and winding and through the atmosphere. To my son’s side.
It was dark when I arrived…night. I watched my feet step out of the vehicle that transported me to the hospital where he laid. Watched them climb the steps, over the sidewalk, through the doors, up the elevator…down the hall. ICU.
I had never been on one of those floors before. Intensive Care. I did not know that the entire wall of each room that faced the nurses station would be glass. As I came around the corner, I could make him out. Lying there. Room 252.
My son. So big and strong (yet so swollen and I somehow thought they got it wrong! This was not him!). The room was a dark, dark gray and his body was lit by the only light of the hallway, and the glowing screens of machines with numbers. Jagged, waving lines of his heartbeat and the flashes of vital information.
Were they sure!? Was this my boy?
I think I stood for a moment with my hand over my mouth. Trying to catch my breath.
Just then I heard a sweet voice of a nurse ask me if I was Mom. Yes, yes. I AM MOM.
She told me that it was alright to touch him…go ahead, touch him.
Touch him? Just touch him? No. I would do more.
I literally flung myself onto his chest. I remember that vividly. The smell and the warmth and the sound of the machine that made him breathe. With my face buried in his chest, I could hear and feel the vibrations of the air being forced deep into his lungs…I was rocked by the rhythm of each rise and fall of his precious, precious chest.
I was buried there.
And I sobbed. I mean — S.O.B.B.E.D. I was surprised at the sounds that came from me. From deep inside my bones. Gutteral. Primal. I had never, ever made that kind of sound before in my life. I did not recognize myself.
I let myself do that. Fall apart. But only for a few minutes. During those few minutes all else around me vanished and it was just the two of us then…no one else mattered. Nothing else existed. Just me, my son, the rise and fall, the vibrations, the love. And clear as anything I heard it.
Let me tell you something. I heard it as if my son said it to me himself. As if some pact was made then and there between just us two.
To stand up. Dry my tears. Square my shoulders.
Right then and there I knew. I knew. I was born for such a time as this. I was created for this day.
I would walk my son through this. I would.
No matter where this signal landed…no matter how this would end up. I know my son called upon me to walk this with him. I know.
With all of my being and all that I had…I would do him proud.
To the most high and most challenging and most honorable call of my life.
I would answer.