as my parents ready themselves to move across the country to their new home, i’m selfishly filled with sadness. It’s been a luxury to have them so close, to have them involved in the Girl’s life, to just have them near.
during my post-holiday purge, i came across a piece i wrote that was published in the Edmonton Journal back in 2006. i’m going to post it up here today, and i’m going to say this out loud – mama, no matter where you go in this world, i will never stop being your cheerleader. i love you so much. xo
‘If I’m ever, ever in a vegetative state, promise me you’ll take me out back & put me out of my misery…like old yeller’
My mother’s words rang around inside my head as I stared at the machines keeping her alive.
The ICU doctors diagnosed her with ‘diffuse axonal injury’, or frontal lobe brain damage to the rest of us laypeople. With extensive bleeding in her brain. And a crushed pelvis. And a giant laceration to the back of her head.
‘You must know that there is a good chance she won’t wake up from this coma.’
Lee Burnell is my mom. She was an independent, hard-working, caring, intelligent, and articulate woman of 54 when she was broadsided at an intersection outside of Calgary.
The ‘powers that be’ didn’t want to lose her the afternoon of May 21, 2002. She had always carried a Do Not Resuscitate order in her purse – and on this day, when she was clinically dead at first sight – the paramedics and police couldn’t find her bag. The option of life wasn’t hers in the days to follow, either, as she showed minimal response to life support; my father and I gave the order to keep her on the machines, for a few weeks at the very least.
The first time she blinked her eyes, wiggled her toes, moved her lips – these were all milestones that blurred together through my tears of pride. She beat the odds the day they took out her breathing tube. From that day forward, my mother never looked back. She was comatose, then in a stupor for months following, all the while struggling to relearn things I take for granted – speaking, eating, walking, and the oh-so-important social skills.
She was welcomed home at the end of the year, 2002.
I am so lucky to have her in my life, just a few blocks away, where she and my two year old daughter can teach each other, learn from each other, and grow with each other. What better role model could someone have?
Mom, thank you for having the will to fight – I promised you I’d cheer you on the minute I first saw you in the intensive care unit – and you have proven, time and time again, that this cheerleading, combined with your strength and perseverance, are a damn serious force to be reckoned with.
I love you.