After enduring nearly 14 hours of sedation, my mother lays in the ICU with countless tubes pouring out of her. Her flesh has been fattened due to the amount of liquids in her body. She feels pain in every direction. Her entire body is bloated; her face is placid white. There is not a single part of her body that is not hooked up to some tube or needle; every inch of her is being monitored.
I watch her wake. I'm here for you, I whisper. A thick tube forces its way down into her throat to provide her with oxygen; she can barely move, she can not even breathe on her own. My eyes fill with tears as I realize she is still alive. You are so strong, I barely allow the words to escape. I watch her, with all of the strength within her, lift her arm to wave. Her eyes squint; they are fixed on me, but can barely open. Her fingers are numb and feel no sensation, so I hold her hand; she can not squeeze back. I can see the pain in her eyes, but I also see tears: tears of joy, tears of renewal. Tears of the strongest woman I know.
Then, with command I know not from where she beckons, she lifts her other arm. The arm that has at least six IVs. The arm that has a heavy cast-like thing around it. And as she gradually raises her arm, she suddenly sways it to the right, then gently sways it back to the left. Now with both hands, raised barely a few inches above her chest, she moves them in a circular motion, and I can tell, even though she cannot utter a single word...she is dancing. With the ounce of energy left in her body she dances. Her transcendent joy overtakes the pain, supersedes the amount of drugs that flow through her body...and she shares with me her joy. A joy that for the rest of my life I will never forget. My mother is the only women who, after surviving one of the most difficult surgeries a surgeon can perform, would come out dancing. But she did. She didn't barely survive--she survived with inexplicable, exuberant joy. So much joy that she danced.
I cried the entire time I wrote this.
(Written May 24th, 2007)