This is not my story. This is a story that has to do with a friend of a friend of a family member. The story is still ongoing and I don’t know exactly how it will end but it contains bunnies and who doesn’t like bunnies. It’s also a story about what we believe…what we want to believe and what we need to believe.
Recently, a woman had a baby. Despite what we all expect, sometimes, the most natural of events with positive outcomes, have unexpected detours. The baby is fine. The mother, however, became extremely and catastrophically ill. To cut to the chase, she is now recovering, but has a long journey back to health. This is about holding on to hope. It’s about optimism in the face of dark facts.
When really difficult things happen, and perhaps more so , when it is something that is happening, not directly to you, but to a friend of a friend, you feel helpless and impotent, because you are not there as part of the event, but you bear witness as it unfolds. My son shared the story as it was unfolding. He was the witness. I was in the role of listening mother. I didn’t have to know the people involved. The pain of caring about your friend, and your friend’s friend, was evidenced in each phone call. Even though my son is an adult, our conversations were about reassurance and separating the medical issues, which he is cognizant of, as he is studying to be a nurse practitioner, from the feelings and fear.
When I got the first call, the parenting instinct kicked in and all I wanted to say was it was going to be all right. Being around for a long time gives me some wisdom and coupled with a knowledge base of some medical information and ability to dialog with him on common ground, helped distance him in the moment from the worry I could hear in his voice. We talked facts, but I felt the feelings. When your child hurts, you hurt. Parenting is really the toughest job but has the best benefits, especially when you know that your long term investment in a human has paid off. I have great children. I know everyone does, but I guess I am quite biased. The rewards are in knowing your adult children want to talk to you and talk about the good stuff, but also know that they can talk about the really hard stuff. Of course, my opinion counts the most when I agree with them. It was not an easy path, and it still is fraught with bumps, but for the most part, it works.
We talked and texted during the first 36 hours of this evolving situation. Every conversation contained updates and speculation. They were intense and draining. The helpless feeling, when we hung up, stayed with me. I vascillated between feeling worried and resolute that things would get better. I tried to use my logical mind to see this to a good end. I’m not a fortune teller and I don’t buy lottery tickets. My son and I often talk, as I am driving, heading home, after a 13 hour work day. As a therapist, I give at the office and by nighttime, I am spent. Whatever listening skills are left, I use for the people I love. That evening, I was really worn out, but as a mom, I always have some reserve. I was just about at the loft. I turned into the driveway, almost at the garage, when a small grey bunny appeared in the headlights of my car and stopped, looked up at me and blinked. The bunny crossed in front of me and scurried off toward the brick building. As a reminder to those reading…I live in the gritty part of an urban setting, in a converted mill loft apartment . There is asphalt, concrete, a few bushes and lots of cars. There are no bunnies, until one shows up because you need to see something that lets you know, it’s going to be all right. I said to my son “There’s a bunny in front of my car”. He might have thought I was delusional but he knows me better than that and said “what did you say?”. I repeated it and then said “She’s going to be okay.” He listened as I reminded him that I want to be an optimist and that I can’t do my job if I am not. I explained that the bunny was a sign and I needed to believe that we needed a sign and there it was. Moms say things, sometimes for both the child and themselves. He accepted it, because when moms talk, kids need to listen. Later, within the hour, he texted again. She was doing better. The prognosis was still guarded, but things were improving.
Do I know if it was the bunny, or did I need to have something to hope with and something to share? I guess things don’t always make sense but I’m going to always believe that when one of my kids needs me to help figure things out, I’m going to try to believe I can do it.