“Would to heaven,” said Eugenie de Menancourt, “that I could have such a happy and saving influence on your fate, Beatrice, as you have had on mine! But I am destined only to be a burden to you, and to rely on you for everything, without knowing or comprehending the past or the present as far as it regards to you – without understanding your means, your wishes, or your purposes.”
— One in a Thousand; or, The Days of Henry Quatre, Volume 20 By George Payne Rainsford James, Laurie Magnus
Whether it is recognized or not, everyone has a hero. Hero is rarely the first word you might choose to describe that person who holds a redemptive quality for you – one who saves you from yourself and provides a sense of hope or inspiration. Since music has always played a huge role in my life, I always thought my hero was a musician. It wasn’t up until recently that I realized who my hero really was, and always was. The heroine of my life is my mother.
My mother’s story is one of hope, the struggles of losing and the triumphs of redeeming. My mother is a source of strength for all those who know her character and the story behind it.
When I was young, my mother was a symbol of quiet, inner strength for me. It’s not that she never cried, but she never wanted me to see it and in even her most broken of states, her sadness hardly even hindered her in all that she had to get done. She was a martyr for the family she so dearly loved; a family that often failed to express the appropriate gratitude. I’ll never be able to pay back my debts to her.
I was eight years old when my mother had a miscarriage. They had only just told me weeks before that I would be having a brother or sister. I remember my father, trying to make it a light-hearted thing. In hindsight, I can tell they had planned for that moment to tell me. My father said, “OK, family meeting. In the bathroom. Come on. Huddle in.” With mom and I giggling, we huddled in the small space of my bathroom that extended off of my room. I don’t remember what he said or how he explained it. I just remember that mom sat on the toilet while dad talked. When he was finished, she was crying. She left the bathroom. I stared vacantly at the floor, knowing I should have a stronger reaction based on hers, but I didn’t really understand what was going on. It was a little like being at Grandma Vaeth’s funeral, except I understood, even at six, that I would never see her again. I remember trying to cry about it, but “the rest of my life” seemed like an unfathomable concept to me. I figured they just didn’t understand that she was still there in a way, and if they could all just accept that, everyone would stop crying.
But the understanding I had at that funeral isn’t something I was given in that bathroom. I don’t remember what I asked my father, but I know I brought up God. I have a feeling I was questioning His existence. My father told me God was everywhere. I said, pointing into the shower, “Even in that bar of soap?” making a mockery of such an idea. “Yes, Nicole. Everywhere. He’s watching you all the time.”
My mother’s miscarriage was due to an eptopic pregnancy. We almost lost her that year. The thought that I could’ve lost my mom before I even knew her terrifies me.
When I was in eighth grade, I came home from school one day. Dad wasn’t there, but it wasn’t unusual. Sometimes he didn’t get home for an hour after I did. The telephone rang in the kitchen. I think I was on the computer at the time, even though I wasn’t supposed to be when no one was home. It was my dad. I don’t remember how tactfully he told me, but he informed me that my mother had a stroke and that they were at the hospital. He told me to walk the dog and then to go to Joanne’s, that either she would bring to the hospital or he would come get me.
I collapsed on the kitchen floor, sobbing so violently, it could’ve shook the earth to the core. The pain and the confusion, not fully understanding what exactly a stroke meant, if my mother would die or live plagued me. I called my boyfriend at the time and talked to him as I walked the dog. He didn’t know what to say to me. He was incapable of comforting me, but his pseudo presence at least stopped the sobbing.
I remember standing next to the hospital bed in the ER, for they hadn’t gotten her a room yet. I held my unconscious mother’s hand and couldn’t keep it together as she looked more fragile than I’ve ever seen her. I specifically remember the machine. If I talked to her, I can’t remember what I said. I just sat staring blankly at the machine, letting its noises wash over me with the assurance of her vitality for minutes, maybe hours.
Through my teenage years, my mother was a strong wall. She knew when to fight, when to pull back and when to draw near. I was a wretch 24/7. It wasn’t until I found God that I fully understood the value of my mother and all she’d done for me. It wasn’t until I started to love myself that I began to really appreciate the person my mother is. I’ve never known a single person who didn’t fall in love my mom almost immediately upon meeting her. She has the kindest heart, the warmest laugh and the most welcoming arms to cry into.
My fondest memories of my mother are on the worst days we ever had. Whether it was her bad day or mine, whenever things got hard and unmanageable, she’d curl up next to me in bed, hold me and rub my back or play with my hair as she sang these lyrics:
“Raindrops keep falling on my head,
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turning red,
Crying’s not for me,
‘Cause I’m never going to stop the rain by complaining.
Because I’m free, nothing’s worrying me.”