My skin tingled; the hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I sat rigidly upon the ultra-firm foam seat beneath me. For the thousandth time my eyes flitted to the clock….2 hours and 13 minutes had passed since they rolled you passed that wretched yellow taped line on the high gloss floor.
You were so small and brave in the stripped flannel pyjamas they had given you, your hair still pushed back off of your face the way you despise from my loving caresses. As the gurney turned into the operating room you craned your neck to find me, the relief in your eyes evident as you saw me upon that yellow line. I waved and made a heart with my fingers, smiling with my false confidence while my heart broke.
I felt like a caged bird; like I was being tortured as I handed over my precious child to the hands of another….out of my control….knowing that I had no choice….having to trust that God would watch over you; praying you would come back to me fully. That you would still be that fascinating, brilliant piece of my heart which I had never believed I deserved.
Turning on that yellow line I did the only thing I could, I breathed in a rhythmic pattern and focused upon my heart beat. The sterile environment around me blurred by the tears which silently flowed from my eyes as I sleep-walked to my waiting cell. Within this vanilla coloured cube I spent 2 hours and 13 minutes of broken time. Time where I fought the impending panic attack, where my breathing and silent prayers kept me from completely shattering. Can a person be broken for a time in their lives and return to whole again?
For 2 hours and 13 minutes my brain was busy; fighting to stay focused upon my heart beat and my breathing as if they were yours. As long as I breathed, you breathed. As long as my heart beat, your heart was beating. Staring at the dotted linoleum floor, unmoving and silent I must have been a sight to my fellow inmates. Cheerful chatter wafted past me as thoughts of side effects and surgery risks drifted unwanted into my consciousness. Silently screaming in agony at these dark thoughts I swept passed them with my deep breaths, feeling the warmth of your sticky 7-year-old hand on my face that morning as we cuddled in bed.
For 2 hours and 13 minutes my life stopped, I learned what it truly meant to wait and to give up control. For 2 hours and 13 minutes I was stuck, couldn’t move or think. For 2 hours and 13 minutes your heart was in mine. For 2 hours and 13 minutes I fought crumbling, fought to keep my sanity.
The moment the recovery room door swished open and I heard your anaesthetic laden-gut-wrenching howl for “Mama” my spasmodic muscles leapt to action, the pieces of my brain slammed together and honed in on its target. In one blast of effort I was up off the vinyl chair and through the door past the clipboard laden nurse, my gaze sweeping over empty beds until I sighted your writhing form. You were surrounded by nurses who were frightened by your night-terror like screams; their attempts to soothe you were futile as your ear-piercing horror filled the room. Twenty feet flew beneath my feet as I reached out and touched your forehead, smoothing your hair back softly, telling you “shhh Mama’s here” calmly over your fear. Your brain finally heard me, your body visibly relaxed as I stroked back the monsters of your dreams and you sighed and murmured “Mama”.
At 2 hours and 14 minutes I breathed slowly along with you, my hand on your chest feeling your heartbeat and felt the pieces of my soul coming together once again.