I’d like to share an excerpt from my memoir, Back on the Court. In this piece, I am 25 years old and have recently been released from the hospital after being in a tragic accident where my fiancé was killed and I was critically injured. I am being moved into my parent’s house just days before I was supposed to be getting married…
A Mother’s Love
One more sip of water and I swear I’ll puke. I’m about to burst and I’m buzzing on a Percocet high that keeps me floating in this unwanted nightmare. More water means another trip to the bathroom, which means another transfer and more pain.
Slumping forward in my wheelchair, I drop my head and close my eyes. My water glass sits untouched. The air behind me thickens, and then dissipates slowly as mom lets out a muffled sigh and walks heavy footed down the hall to the bathroom. She’s unnerved, but I’ve had four large glasses already today, this one can wait.
I’ve been eating, sleeping, and sitting in this house for 13 days now and I want out. I’m with people I love, but I don’t care. I hate my mom for taking a leave of absence from work and being with me all day, for trying to help me get better.
I hate the way the gold wire rims of her glasses accent her caring eyes.
I hate the way she cooks my favorite foods and tries to mask her disappointment when I don’t show any enthusiasm.
I hate the way she manages to think of my every need before I do, as a good mother should. And she is a good mother, a great mother, and right now I hate her for that.
Mom walks back into the kitchen and slips into the corner nook next to me.
“Are you feeling okay?” she probes. “Maybe you need to take a painkiller.”
I push my food awkwardly around my plate with my fork.
“No. I’m fine.” I insist, staring at the full plate. Finally I press down on the side of my fork and cut off a small piece of tenderloin. As I chew, a familiar pain creeps up on me and spreads throughout my body but I use my mind to push it back. The pain killers are addictive, and though I don’t want to follow that path it’s not my true reason for abstaining, I want to feel the pain. I want the physical pain to over power the pain I feel in my heart.
“Mom, I’m done.” I announce quietly after swallowing the small bite. I’m thinking of Mark now, watching him on the ongoing movie that plays in my mind. I see him turn and blow me a kiss, touching his leather batting glove to his lips and giving a toss of his hand in my direction on his way to the plate. Not in an arrogant way, just a fun kiss, an “I want everyone to know I love you” kiss. His tight gray baseball pants hug his full thighs and butt while he moves side to side and settles into his stance before eyeing the pitcher, daring him to throw his toughest pitch.
“Mom, I think I need to go lay down.”
By the time I’m lying in my hospital bed in the dining room, I ache all over. Mom kisses me gently and gives me space. I close my eyes and lie very still. My body begins to bead with sweat. The pressure behind my eyelids slowly builds until it becomes unbearable. My body is on fire. Tears fill my eyes.
“What’s wrong?” mom asks appearing at my bedside.
“Nothing,” I sob.
“I’m calling the doctor” she says, resting the back of her hand on my forehead. “You’ve had your flu shot. Something’s not right.”
I’ve found out the hard way to keep up with the pain. I’d thought it was what I’d wanted, but it was more than I could handle.
At night I cry myself to sleep only to be awakened by pressure on my bladder. Dad is a light sleeper so in my raspy voice, which is scarcely audible due to my punctured lung, I call to him. I wait, but he does not appear. “Daaaddd.” I try again, this time with more urgency. Three more times and I can’t hold back my tears. Mom won’t hear me she sleeps so hard. The thought of wetting myself and lying in it the rest of the night disgusts and humiliates me. I give up my meek efforts to call and simply cry.
“Sonya?” Mom appears out of the darkness.
“Mom, I’ve gotta go to the bathroom,” I cry.
“Okay, let’s get you out of that bed,” she says, removing the wrap that keeps blood flowing through my battered leg twelve hours a day.
“Mom, I don’t know if I can make it,” I say squeezing back angry tears.
“Sure you can,” she says reaching around my back and under my arms to help me into the wheel chair, “Just hang on.”
We made it just in time, but by morning I’m still ready for a shower. It’s not easy to complete the tight transfer into the three-foot by three-foot stall. But mom and I manage and once on the shower stool I look down at my body. I’m so thin I hardly recognize it as my own. My rail like thighs and boney knees, with protruding goose bumps truly fit the name I carried in middle school, “chicken legs.” I never thought I had chicken legs then, but now I have chicken legs. I am chicken legs.
With a warm washcloth mom carefully washes my face. My black eye is gone and so is the big scab above my lip, but for the empty glaze to my eyes, one might say my face is perfect. I wish it were scarred to show the way I feel inside.
I slump forward with hands held together in my lap while mom runs the soapy washcloth across my back. Then with the hand held shower she rinses away the soap. I stay this way for a while hoping the water will wash away my sorrow and everything that has happened.
“Are you alright?” Mom asks, trying to hold the water steady cramped along side me in the tight space.
“Yeah,” I answer out of habit, then sit up while mom dabs the washcloth around the incisions on my broken arm before finishing my chest and legs. She leans forward and presses her lips to my forehead.
“Sonya, I love you so much” She whispers.
I look up at her with tears in my eyes.
Mom senses my every need. She knows she can’t fill the important ones, because they all have to do with Mark. But she tries and today, I love her for that.
WRITING PROMPT: Write about your mother.
Follow this link to learn more about Back on the Court: A Young Woman’s Triumphant Return to Life, Love & Basketball.