While getting off the big yellow bus, I didn’t have a care in the world. Until I found my mother crying on the couch in the living room as I walked through the door. I was in seventh grade and was unsure of how to handle such strong emotion. My mom went to the doctor that morning because for the past year she dealt with heartburn and regurgitating her food. She informed me and my ten year old brother that she had poly cystic kidney disease. We had no clue what that was. Mom said the disease runs through our family and one of her brother and sisters had it. At that time, they put her on certain medication, but eventually she may need to go on dialysis or receive a transplant.
A year later, mom got progressively worse and was put on dialysis. She would work as a nurse on the night shift and then go to dialysis the next morning. By the time I was in high school, my mom’s first home became the hospital. She was so in and out. Her body would get so full of water that she could not even breathe. Several late nights, I would wake up to ambulance lights outside the window. Awoken in a panic, I would be so scared that my mom would die. I also remember driving my car and seeing an ambulance going toward my home and I felt bad for praying it wasn’t my mom, but relieved when they passed our home. Sometimes I would get called to the office and I would pray the entire way that my mom was okay. Throughout my high school years, my mom finally had to quit her job. She began having heart problems and suffered several small mild heart attacks.
During my senior year, I just remember praying to God for her to be able to attend my graduation because there was a big scare in November of 2001. My mom was at Emory Hospital in Atlanta. My family kept her condition very secretive, but there were several days where she was unconscious. She eventually made it through and came home. Six months later, she was able to attend my graduation, but her health was deteriorating. She developed gangrene which is very common with dialysis patients. During the summer of 2002, she was hospitalized in Savannah to get one of her legs removed from the knee down. My mom was so strong, but that was the first time she was in the hospital and she did not receive many visitors. I remember going to visit her for the first time in Savannah and she was not the same. Her personality was full of perseverance and strength. She was usually very upbeat and positive, but this time was different. She looked somewhat sad. I think losing her leg was too much. I have heard that losing a body part is just as painful as losing a person. And I think my mom lost more than that.
She came home during the late summer. She no longer had the same independence and required a lot of help from me and my brother. Eventually she was supposed to get an amputee leg and I thought for sure my mom would be back to herself in no time. But I was wrong. After two weeks of being home, my mom passed away. It was very difficult to face the reality of my mom being gone, but I knew that she was at peace and in no more pain.
Even now that it has been over 10 years, I still miss her dearly. Since then, my brother has been diagnosed with poly cystic kidney disease. I do have some fear that I may eventually get diagnosed as well. Currently there is no cure. Throughout this journey, it has made me realize that life is precious and life on earth is temporary. So live each day like it’s your last.